Yesterday Tumblr blogger Joshua Gross tried to make a really good point about how cab drivers in New York City made a ton of cash off of a set of buttons that artificially raised the size of the tips they were given. Not long after that, The Next Web posted essentially the same thing with two paragraphs copied almost word-for-word, giving little credit initially. Gross got upset, complained, and drew the wrath of TNW’s CEO, Zee M. Kane. A couple sample tweets:
Then Hacker News, where the story was originally posted, noticed the uproar, and from there it turned into a mess. Kane eventually wrote an apology on Google Docs, while still denying the plagiarism allegations, which ended as such: "Secondly, seriously keep my mouth shut until I know all the facts. Even when I’m sure I know them, check again." (Initially it said “keep your mouth shut,” which made it sound like he was attacking his readers.)
To put it simply, there’s a right and a wrong way to aggregate, and The Next Web is doing it wrong. (Especially with that response. You took his story; be gracious.) Rewrite. Add something new. Don’t just copy word for word. In some newsrooms, this would be grounds for dismissal. Don’t forget that.