More professionalism needed by publisher of Church News Ireland

CNI – Church News Ireland is portrayed online by its compiler, the Very Rev. Dr Houston McKelvey OBE QVRM TD as a magazine. To my mind that makes Dr McKelvey a publisher. Whilst it is clear that magazines publish articles not always written by their publishers, it is customary to give credit to those that do write them. This does not appear to be being done in CNI. Much of the content appears to be “lifted” from news reports published elsewhere, but without references to the original place of publication, nor to the original author. This feels like he is basically recycling stories from other news websites but without referencing them. Is that fair?

Dr McKelvey, I am told, was a former editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette, and as such, I would expect him to know that

“There is no copyright infringement in reporting—in a re-written version—the facts uncovered or published by others (Springfield v Thame (1903) 89 LT 242)”

Mark Hanna & Mike Dodd, McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists, 25th edition, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), p. 387.

However, many of the stories in CNI are not rewritten: they are lifted verbatim without references. If students were to quote verbatim at length as has been done, without references, without showing that it is someone else’s work, it would be seen as plagiarism, and this would be seen as an academic offence.

A selection of these stories includes:

It is clear that Fr McKelvey does understand about referencing as he has done so in yesterday’s magazine in the article about the Mount Sion choir, “courtesy waterforlive.ie”. Not that he gives a link to the actual story. That would be too helpful.

It is not just the words that are problematic, it is also the images that are published without acknowledgement of who took them. For instance, the Image of the Day for today, of Rochester Cathedral was share by Rochester Cathedral themselves, but they referenced the photographer, “racha_bassi”. Unfortunately, Fr McKelvey seems to think it is fair to just share other people’s photographs without even crediting them.

If Dr McKelvey cannot take the time to rewrite the stories he publishes, then I call on him to show some professionalism and reference the articles and photographs he compiles and republishes. It is only fair.

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