I normally donâ€™t comment on things involving clients â€“ firstly I think it is unprofessional and secondly I have had to deal with many difficult clients since I started working with web design â€“ it comes with the job. This time, however, I am making an exception.
I am an editor for the student newspaper at Swansea University â€“ The Waterfront. Along with 26 other editors, we spend a lot of time and effort putting together a fortnightly newspaper, a monthly magazine and a regularly updated website â€“ which James and I built from scratch last summer. We work long hours and do it for free. So, imagine how we feel when the Student Unionâ€™s part time Web Editor plagiarises our content and uses it as his own. This has happened several times now and Iâ€™ve had enough.
Back in mid March, during the Student Union Sabbatical Elections, a group of editors worked throughout the night. The day started at 3pm and ended at around 7am the next day. In this time, we wrote 46 blog entries, more than 9 articles, kept a live commentary of the events, produced 11 podcasts and kept a photo blog. In addition to this, the editors put together an election special newspaper, printed it and distributed it around campus. A few hours later, when the part time web editor arrived for the day, an article written by Deputy Editor Tim Sculthorpe appeared on the SU website. There was no credit to either the Waterfront or Tim.
Last week was the 2007 Summer Ball. A number of editors attended the event to review the bands and take photos for the Waterfront website. Guess our surprise when the photos we posted to our PhotoBlog appeared on the Student Union website with yet again, no credit to the Waterfront or the photographer.
Now, either the SU web editor doesnâ€™t understand that taking content produced by somebody else and passing it off as your own is plagiarism, or someone higher up in SU management doesnâ€™t. For a university student union, that is extremely disturbing. We get told all of the time how plagiarism is wrong and the consequences of doing it are severe. However, the SU keeps doing it â€“ setting a bad example to students.
Doing something like this reflects very badly on the paper and the union. As a further point, why are students going to continue contributing to the Waterfront when their efforts are stolen by the SU with no credit to their work?
This year we have applied to the Guardian Student Media Awards. This jeopardises any chance we might have of even getting a nomination. It looks as if we are the ones plagiarising the SU web editor.
So, what happens now? Well, firstly, any images used on the Waterfront website will now carry the Waterfront logo as a watermark. Secondly, the next time this happens (and I have no doubts that there will be a next time), I will walk away and resign from the paper.