Bernama plagiarised Jakarta Globe stories?
Bernama has suspended the reporter involved in the apparent plagiarising of two news reports from the Jakarta Globe, and promised strict disciplinary action. Zulkefli Salleh, chief editor, said “every journalist must know and understand that the act of plagiarising in news writing was an unforgivable offence”.» Bernama report
Malaysia’s government-owned national news agency Bernama apparently stole two stories from the Jakarta Globe newspaper and ran them as their own, under the byline of what the Globe described as “the elusive Elmi Rizal Alias”.
The Globe ran a story on Sunday giving details of the plagiarism.
It said an election story that it ran on Saturday had been published word-for-word by Bernama the next day “word for word” with one of the many quotes in the story attributed to the Globe.
The Globe story:
By Jakarta Globe on 11:15 pm Jul 06, 2014
Jakarta: Malaysia’s national news agency, Bernama, was found to have plagiarized, word for word, two articles that were published by the Jakarta Globe.
On Saturday, July 5, as part of its live coverage of the fifth and final presidential debate, the Globe published an article on its website titled “In Closing Debate, Joko Promises Bureaucratic ‘Breakthrough,’ While Prabowo Strives for ‘A Dignified Nation.’”
The following day, it was discovered that Bernama had published a similar article titled, “Joko Promises Bureaucratic ‘Breakthrough,’ While Prabowo Strives for ‘A Dignified Nation.’”
The Malaysian news agency had copied the Globe’s piece verbatim, attributing one of the many quotes in the article to this newspaper.
Bernama also removed the names of Globe reporters Josua Gantan and Andrea Wijaya, the original authors of the story, replacing the byline with what is assumed to be the name of a Bernama journalist, Elmi Rizal Alias.
On the same day, Singapore-based Channel News Asia republished the plagiarized article on its website. The piece, however, had been renamed, “Indonesia Election: Jokowi, Prabowo Face Off in Final TV Debate.”
Not the first time
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that Monday’s discovery was not the first time Bernama drew “inspiration” from the Globe.
On July 1, following the fourth debate, the Globe uploaded an article on its website titled “Hatta Says Indonesia Should Take Advantage of Its ‘Demographic Bonus.’”
The same story was found on Bernama’s website with the slightly altered title “Indonesia Should Take Advantage of Its ‘Demographic Bonus’ — Hatta.”
Similarly, the Malaysian news agency only attributed one of the article’s many quotes to the Globe, and replaced the original reporter’s name — Basten Gokkon — with that of the elusive Elmi Rizal Alias.
The Globe made numerous attempts to contact and seek clarification from Bernama on Sunday. However, the news agency was not immediately available to give comment on the matter.
Wina Armada, a member of the Indonesian Press Council and an expert in press law from the University of Indonesia, told the Globe that the incident amounted to “a serious violation of [Indonesia’s] copyright laws.”
“For a case like this, the law is such that even if the disadvantaged party does not file a police report about the incident, the police can still take action against the perpetrator,” Wina said.
“If it is true that [the Bernama reporter] has plagiarized [the Globe’s articles], according to Indonesian laws, the Malaysian journalist can be [charged and] imprisoned,” he said.
Wina added that the incident was particularly regrettable as Bernama was the official news agency for the Malaysian government, under its Ministry of Communication and Multimedia.
“From a journalistic point of view, this is a serious violation of the journalistic code of ethics. This is not professional journalism,” he said. “Moreover, this is not only partial [plagiarism] — the whole [article] has been plagiarized. Plagiarism is a very basic error in journalism. If this is true, the perpetrator should not be allowed to continue his profession as a journalist.
“This should not be condoned. In journalism, upholding credibility and honesty should be number one,” Wina added.
Hikmahanto Juwana, an international law expert from the University of Indonesia, similarly told the Globe that the incident was regrettable.
“They even changed the [Globe] reporters’ names,” Hikmahanto said. “Perhaps [Bernama’s] reporter ran out of news, that’s why he took news [from the Globe].”
In response to the incident, Ruhut Sitompul, a legislator and a member of the legal affairs commission at the Indonesian House of Representatives, said Bernama ought to be “sued for the matter.”
“Legal action should be taken against its representative in Indonesia,” Ruhut told the Globe.