The Reddit community has been accused of plagiarizing, pirating, and misattributing content since the site’s early days, and to be fair, a large amount of the content generated there is lifted from other sites. Some of the copyright infringement on Reddit is to be expected. You can’t make a meme without taking a photo created by someone else and making it your own by adding commentary or extremely convoluted context that somehow makes it funny (which sometimes only redditors understand).
But what about the other side of the coin? Do journalists ever take stuff written by redditors without asking and attribute the credit to themselves? According to Reddit, they do it all the time, and it’s easy to see the temptation. Pour yourself a hot cup of Joe in the morning while still in your pajamas, head over to the popular subreddits, scan the most upvoted posts for something interesting, run a quick Google search to make sure no one else has lifted it yet, and push out a boilerplate article. Reddit’s new site, Upvoted was launched two weeks ago to battle that problem. It publishes content originally posted on Reddit in a digestible, digital magazine format, without the comments, but with additional commentary and content about the original posts creator and other relevant context.
This morning, a fascinating exposé was posted in the r/journalism subreddit where a Nintendo Forums moderator tells a story about a Bloomberg journalist who took the news the OP broke in a Reddit post and repackaged it as a story, which ended up being a big runaway hit for him, with tends of thousands of news sources all crediting Bloomberg for telling the news first.
I won’t ruin the story by telling the full details here, but the most shocking part was that the Bloomberg reporter had the nerve to speak with the redditor on the phone and confirm the origin of the news, and then proceeded to publish his story without crediting his source.
It was also interesting to observe that, since this was reported in r/journalism, plenty of journalists came to the defense of the clearly unethical behavior of the Bloomberg reporter, and the few people who thought that Reddit should have been credited got downvoted by the end of the day. Fascinating stuff all around.