Daily Mail rewrites Washington Post story, then asks writer for photo

The Daily Mail pushes the limits of news aggregation. While most of us in this business stick with a story's essentials and provide linked attribution, the London paper is not above a full, transparent rewrite of another article — as it did with Steve Hendrix's excellent Post article about a F-16 fighter pilot sent on a kamikaze mission on 9/11 to take down the airliner, United 93, that ended up crashing in Pennsylvania.

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Hundreds of media outlets picked up the story, either attributing the Post or reporting it out themselves. Instead, the Daily Mail rewrote Hendrix's piece into this 700-word article, which only attributes the Post after lifting a quote — and without linking. For photos, it used ABC 7 video stills and Facebook. But then Hendrix followed up his story with one about how the F-16 pilot's father was a commercial pilot for United, and could have been flying United 93 — he wasn't — and again the Mail rewrote it.

Problem was, the tabloid couldn't find any photos of the father. That's when, as Jim Romenesko reports, a freelancer in the Mail's photo department emailed Hendrix for the family's contact info. Hendrix replied,

Yes, the Mail is becoming increasingly well known around here for the kind of stories you do, sometimes so similar in their entirety to our own. I do see your original piece on Heather Penney (beautiful line this: “jet fuel practically coursed through her veins.” So much better than my own clunky “She had grown up smelling jet fuel.”)

And I’m not surprised to hear you’ve got one coming on the father’s role. We had one today! And I’m honored to see the same generous attribution.

To get a photo of her father, I’d track him down and ask him. That’s how we do it.

And still the Mail doesn't give up! The rest of the exchange is worth a read — Hendrix pulls a Let Me Google That For You — as is the freelancer's sarcastic statement to Romenesko, in which he writes,

Perhaps the writer at The Washington Post should ask his boss for a raise, he seems like a smart guy, and how savvy to get the gossip sites involved. Sort of that 'Keep that story going no matter what the angle' kind of approach. How reality TV of him, Bravo!

It almost makes TBD seem like a model of sincerity.

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