The revolution will be plagiarized

The citizens are failing us at NowPublic. As of 2 p.m., Sept. 11, nearly 60 per cent of the stories in the citizen-journalism site’s Canadian Election section consist of quoted material from other, largely traditional media outlets.

NowPublic was launched in 2005 by three entrepreneurs when they noticed the prevalence of camera phones, wireless technology and blogging. The site was supposed to act as an organizing hub for all the material produced. It was also meant to provide an alternative to traditional media outlets. Since its founding, the company has a struck high profile deals with venture capitalists and the Associated Press.

There are 22 stories in NowPublic’s Canadian election section. The most recent of which, titled “Harper, Layton willing to let Green leader debate,” is made up entirely of an article that appeared at (with the exception of the words “source:”).

The number two story is written by a NowPublic staffer about Conservative criticism of Stéphane Dion. It fares better—only 37 per cent quoted material—but it appears to contain no original reporting.

Only two articles in the section are completely free of quotes from other media outlets: “Golfing liberals V/S emailing Conservatives (whats up with this media)“—a rant about the Liberals’ golfing habits this summer—and “Harper government aims to starve Canadian art“—fairly straight coverage from company-founder Michael Tippett of an arts group’s anti-Conservative rally (though he appears to have quoted the majority of the article from his personal blog).

NowPublic journalists have penned about 11,000 words on the Canadian election, and just under 7000 of those words originated at sources such as the CBC, CTV and The Globe and Mail.