Republishing Website Shuts Down Following Student Journalist Inquiries

UC Campus News, a news aggregator that republished articles from student-run newspapers without permission or consistent author crediting from eight of the 10 UC campuses, announced in an email to the UCSD Guardian that they would be closing effective April 2, following inquiries from student editors.

After the Guardian emailed the aggregator asking whether or not the website had received permission to republish articles, UC Campus News replied with the following statement:

“UCCAMPUSNEWS.COM is closed as of today (4/2/2019). Only reason that I made this site was (I have a full-time job, this site was my extra time side job) to let UC STUDENTS read other schools’ newspaper. And I wasn’t willing to take a credit for the article. All my articles have an original author’s name and has links to original articles. Anyway, thanks for the good articles and keep it up.”

Every article that was published was done so under the author name “Campus Mojo,” and inconsistently listed where the pieces originated from at the bottom of the article with either a link to the original source and/or the author’s name. These credits were only given when the original source listed an author’s name at the bottom of the article, something that not every UC newspaper does.

The owner of UC Campus News declined to identify themselves in a follow up email.

While active, the website republished content from UC San Diego’s Guardian and Triton, UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian, UCLA’s Daily Bruin, UC Santa Barbara’s Daily Nexus, UC Irvine’s New University, UC Davis’s California Aggie, UC Riverside’s Highlander, and UC Santa Cruz’s City on a Hill Press.

Over the course of Winter Quarter 2019, UC Campus News republished original content from the Guardian 15 separate times. Broken down, the website republished three opinion pieces, one news article, one feature, two lifestyle pieces, seven arts and entertainment pieces, and one sports article.

According to its website, UC Campus News was founded in February 2019 in Los Angeles as a “digital-first, independent newspaper with the goal of covering content relevant to all of the University of California campus communities.”

Nowhere on the website is it acknowledged that all of the content is repackaged from various campus newspapers.

UC Campus News also limited access to information on the amount of influence they had by disabling follower counts on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

Many staffers from the organizations whose content had been republished by UC Campus News were unaware of the aggregator’s existence until the Guardian had reached out for comments. Caitlin Antonios, editor-in-chief of UC Irvine’s New University, said that while the articles republished from their organization did have links to the original source as well as author credits, they were never asked by the website to have their articles republished in the first place.

“It is disappointing to see the hard work we put into our website and articles be appropriated by someone else,” Antonios said. “While the idea of having a website that consolidates UC news in one place is … great, the website should simply post hyperlinks to the various articles instead of copying and pasting the articles and providing … credit at the very bottom. We’re proud of the work we do on our website and are glad others find it important too, but republishing without directing readers to the original source for the full article is not the way to support college papers.”

Emily Stack, editor-in-chief of UC Davis’s California Aggie, told the Guardian that while their organization does allow some republication of their content, this only comes with expressed permission, the promise to credit those that worked on the piece of content, and a link back to the original site.

“We are happy to distribute our reporting with these protections,” Stack said. “But without them, content aggregators take credit away from the hardworking members of our staff and pull viewers away from our website, which negatively impacts both our digital advertising revenue and our ability to meaningfully track digital engagement and respond to our readership.”

Andreas Rauch, editor-in-chief of UC Riverside’s Highlander, said that his organization had not previously been aware of UC Campus News, but that he intended to contact the website soon and ask that their content be removed.

“This site is plagiarism, plain and simple,” Rauch said. “Using students’ work without their consent and republishing it as one’s own is a violation of journalistic ethics and constitutes [Intellectual Property] theft. We will be seeking to address this issue and possibly bringing legal means to bear if the site administrators don’t remove the content immediately.”

After the closure of the aggregator had been announced, the management of UC Campus News declined to comment any further. As of the time this article is being written, no legal action has been taken against the currently unknown owner of the website.

 

photo from UCCampusNews.com

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