Huffington Post Stealing Others' Writing?

The humor site The Onion, the offbeat weekly The Chicago Reader, and Time Out Chicago have discovered that some of their articles have appeared in total on Arianna Huffington's mega web outlet The Huffington Post. And they are none too happy about the wholesale lifting of their material, either.

Wired.com has the full story about the Huffington Post's unwelcome lifting saying that Huffington Post is "being accused of slimy business practices by a handful of smaller publications who say the site is unfairly copying and publishing their content." And this wholesale stealing of others' work seems strange when the latest news about Huff Post is that it was graced with a $25 million capital infusion by investors. With that kind of cash flow, you'd think they could hire a few out of work MSMers and give them a job, wouldn't you?

For its part, the Huff Post is claiming that it only uses part of an outside publisher's articles and then links back to their site for the rest. While it is certainly true that the Huff Post has links to the original source, the argument has been made that the Huff Post folks use nearly the entire article, instead of mere headlines or short segments. This is what is raising the ire of the print media folks that have found their on-line articles poached in total on the Huff Post site.

As an editor of the Chicago Reader named Whet Moser posted on the Chi Reader Blog section, he finds the whole practice "beneath contempt."

You want to do a post that says, "According to Jessica Hopper, Bon Iver rules, check 'em out, go here for the info," fine. But taking an entire concert preview is bush league. Doing it as a practice is just beneath contempt. If the future of journalism--which everyone keeps telling me the Huffington Post represents--is a bunch of search-engine optimization scams, we have bigger problems than Sam Zell's bad investment strategies.

Moser posted some examples of how the Huff Post segment is exactly the same in full compared to a Chicago Reader review. On the Chi Reader, Blythe Smith had a review of Buddy Guy's Legends Blues club and Moser then posted a link to the identical one from Huff Post. Moser also posted half a dozen other examples to make his case.

Huff Post has since dumped those posts leaving only a headline and a link back to the original sources at this point. Plainly, the Huff Post folks know they were caught in their shady policy and tried to erase the proof.

But, yay for google cached images. Here is the Blythe Smith review as it appeared on Huff Post. And here is the actual review on the Chi Reader's website. As you can see, the Huff Post pulled the ENTIRE Chi Reader review before posting the link back to the Reader. At some point, one has to wonder why anyone would bother going to the Chi Reader from Huff Post if they'd already seen the whole review on Huff Post?

Anyway, the Huff Post is in a bit of hot water over this shady policy and I don't blame the print folks for getting a bit miffed.