God’s Gifts to Journalism at Rappler did the unimaginable by apologizing over an article containing portions plagiarized from lesser rival Interaksyon.com.
It took Maria Ressa’s “social news network” almost a week to figure out that one of her minions, a certain Lean Santos, had indeed lifted information from Manny V. Pangilinan’s struggling news website. In the “public space” of social media — which Rappler claims to have expertise on — perhaps it was indeed difficult to spot journos in the business of copy-paste reporting. Not with editors like Gemma Bagayaua Mendoza taking apparent plagiarists like Santos under her wing even in the face of strong evidence. Good thing complainant Ben Arnold de Vera stood his ground against Santos’ protective-to-a-fault editor.
No wonder the plagiarism episode made Rappler readers “afraid” based on its “mood meter.” We all should be, with editors like Mendoza whose idea of addressing the issue was to attack the complainant first, then probe later.
Rappler has no choice, having fueled the crusade against copy-pasting RH hater Tito Sotto at the height of the RH bill debate last year. Remember how Rappler went to town with the “Sottocopy” story? Not only did the “social news network” publish spot news — it also came out with analyses, satire pieces, and multi-part opinion articles that ultimately pinned down the Iskul Bukol stalwart.
Santos, according to the Rappler note, has been sacked. But how about his editor who dismissed the complaint posthaste based only on her reporter’s version of the story? Apparently, Mendoza’s fact-checking skills were no use against reporters plagiarizing right under her nose.
And we thought she’s among God’s Gifts to Journalism.