Monday, 23 August 2010

Sun re translation

An e-mail to TSF from James Wallace, the Toronto Sun's editor in chief, regarding the hockey blog plagiarism accusations:

"Surprised you bought into allegations (Dave) Fuller would plagiarize.

"Here's what actually happened.

"The Czech hockey magazine, Hokej, wrote an article quoting (Tomas) Kaberle's father saying he's surprised his son is staying with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"A Canadian blog site cut, pasted and we're told had a reader translate the article ­ then posted an English version on their website.

"Now they're upset because we did not credit them. To be clear, ­ we did see the story first on the sports blog. Then we did what journalists are supposed to do - ­ checked the original article from Hokej, ran it through Google Translate and did our own work to validate and rework the quotes for accuracy.

"Quotes, as you're aware, are part of the public record and it's acceptable journalistic practice to use quotations from another source particularly if they are properly attributed.

"That's what we did, attributed quotes we used in our story to Hokej, which actually invested the resources into interviewing Kaberle's father and producing the original story.

"Hope this clears things up."

Thanks for the e-mail, James. As we said, use of the word plagiarize by the blog involved is a stretch.

If that is plagiarism, TSF has been victimized many times by other blogs ripping off quotes, mostly recently quotes from Eric Margolis about his exit from the Sun.

We could go ballistic over not being credited by a few blogs, but cutting and pasting in print, the Net and broadcasting is rampant and has been for decades.

Cutting and pasting without proper credit goes to the core of the media outlet or individual involved. They obviously do not respect the work of others.

That said, we prefer to name and highlight media and blogs that do respect the work of others, not dwell on the ignorance of lesser entities.


  1. I agree that plagarize is a stretch. However, re-working a translation and not crediting the original translater really done all the time?

  2. The problem was that the Toronto Sun used the quotes directly from PensionPlanPuppets' translation. There was no mashup of Google Translate at PPP's translation. From there, it seems conventional to cite the discovering source, as went on to cite the Toronto Sun *and* Hokej.

  3. Quotes are public record only if they are accurate, legit and in proper context. I've seen quotes altered either intentionally or accidentally. If media 1 takes quotes from media 2, which got its quotes from media 3, then who knows what's correct? How many degrees of separation are acceptable? Is second hand reporting okay? Third hand? Fourth hand? ...

  4. And here, ladies and gentlemen, is your problem.

    "Then we did what journalists are supposed to do -checked the original article from Hokej, ran it through Google Translate and did our own work to validate and rework the quotes for accuracy."


  5. That's a blatant misrepresentation of what happened. This response was at best written with either at best ignorance of the situation, or at worse as a direct falsehood meant to deceive anyone who might read it.

    The Canadian hockey blog involved, [PPP], credited the Czech website Hokej. Hokej by the way is not a print entity but an entirely online medium, i.e. they only have online content on a website. One of the the PPP readers translated the article into English. Note that PPP cited and credited both the original source, Hokej, and the translator.

    The Sun Media employee, Dave Fuller then copied and pasted that translation from PPP directly without crediting the translator or PPP and passed it off as his own work. It is a verbatim copy, i.e. word for word. The Google translation is completely different from the finished product. As anyone who has used Google translate for languages like Czech to English will attest, what comes out is very much a rough representation devoid of any nuance and often interspersed with seeming nonsensical phrases with little or no help to the actual meaning. This is why translators have their own profession, to fill this gap.

    Dave Fuller and, by supporting his decision, the Toronto Sun have willfully, and knowingly stolen the work of others and passed it off as their own by not doing the simple courtesy of citing their source, PPP.

    To then go ahead and falsely accuse PPP of doing what Dave Fuller did, when PPP clearly cited and linked to the Hokej site and clearly credited the translator, smacks of hypocrisy and dishonesty. If nothing else, this is the reason that print media is dying. The lack of respect for new mediums, the arrogance, and the stubborn refusal to adapt to change.

  6. If a story warrants coverage, I would hope a journalist would go out and gather the facts him/herself. Taking the facts from someone else, even when you attribute the source(s), should be a last resort. Editors need to encourage journalists to get back out into the field. Proper news-gathering is an essential tool for any journalist. Sadly it is a tool that is being blunted by a reliance on the internet.

  7. Richard has it right.

    If you believe Google Translate happened to cough up a nearly identical version of the article as was published on Pension Plan Puppets, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

    The long and the short of it is that Fuller and the Sun continue to represent the work of others as their own. They ought to be ashamed.

  8. "we prefer to name and highlight media and blogs that do respect the work of others"

    Regardless of your stance on the issue at hand, disrespecting the good work PPP does covering the Maple Leafs in their blog is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black.