I was going to blog about the constant policing of women’s bodies in the mainstream media, and how celebrity weight changes are now considered News, not just Entertainment News, and about how women are mocked if they don’t look sexually attractive throughout their entire pregnancy, and about how images of Beyonce’s body were examined to discover whether or not her “bump” was real, and about how a few weeks after having a baby, nameless journos have scrutinised her body for signs of weight gain and declared that since only her boobs are bigger, then she is sexy. But then I noticed something.
I noticed how similar the News.com.au and smh.com.au versions of the Beyonce story are. And I noticed how similar they both are to the original story on Us Weekly.
Some similarities are unavoidable, particularly when using journalese. (For a laugh, check out Words journalists use that people never say and the BBC’s paper monitor.) Journalists tend to use the same words, the same voices and the same angles when writing stories, so of course their stories all sound the same. They’re consistent. Predictable. Very predictable. After all, today’s funny tech stories were last week’s RTs on twitter.
But how much similarity is ok and how much is plagiarism?
This is all the Media Alliance Code of Ethics has to say about it:
10. Do not plagiarise.
Australian news sites run on re-writes from British and American tabloids. Without them, online journalists would have to, um, pick up the phone and make some calls and write their own stories. I guess it comes down to what what online editors think is important: getting your tertiary-educated journalists to chase stories that your competitors don’t have – stories that make your website a trusted, “must visit” news source, thereby improving your own job prospects – or getting them to bash out a few pars of the same shit that’s on every website.
But, to be fair, journalists in Australian newsrooms can’t be there in person to report on what a celebrity is wearing and whether or not they look fat/tired/like their relationship is on the rocks every time they leave the house, so re-writes are a necessary evil if you want to run these stories on your website.
So, the stories. News.com.au went for the SEO bonanza headline – Beyonce proves she’s already crazy in shape just one month after giving birth to Blue Ivy – but loses points for saying that Beyonce was “stepping out to support her rapper husband”. Unless she was performing a dance move, “stepping out” should not have made it past the sub.
During the concert, Jay-Z reportedly got choked up while performing Glory, the song he wrote for their newborn daughter.
Pay attention to that sentence. At smh.com.au: Woah mama! Beyonce’s post baby appearance:
Jay-Z looked visibly choked up when he performed Glory – the song he wrote for his new baby girl.
And from the original story at Us Weekly: Beyonce Reveals Sexy Post-Baby Body 1 Month After Giving Birth:
During the concert, Jay-Z got choked up while performing “Glory,” the song he wrote for their daughter, Blue Ivy (born January 7 in NYC).
This is also from the original:
Post-show, A-list guests hit up Jay-Z’s 40/40 club for the official after-party.
Knowles was clearly enjoying her night off, arriving half an hour after her hip-hop husband, 42, walked the red carpet.
And this is from the News.com.au re-write:
Following the show, A-list guests hit up Jay-Z’s 40/40 club for the after-party.
Knowles, 30, was clearly enjoying her night off, arriving half an hour after her hip-hop husband, 42, walked the red carpet.