The UK's Daily Mail has found a nifty way to cover science: Simply use other people's stories.
Case in point: On Aug. 6, the science blogger and author Brian Switek, whose obsession with dinosaurs rivals Wile E. Coyote's with The Road Runner, wrote a delightful piece for Smithsonian.com entitled, "The Top Ten Weirdest Dinosaur Extinction Ideas," including such things as "extra-terrestrials eliminated the dinosaurs to make room for humanity," and the idea that caterpillars wiped them out by eating all the vegetation, leaving herbivores with "nothing to eat but each other."
On Aug. 8, the Daily Mail ran a not-quite-as-delightful piece called "The 10 Strangest dinosaur extinction theories ever suggested by experts" by Sarah Griffiths. No plagiarism there; note that Switek's "weirdest" are the Daily Mail's "strangest." I didn't know that Griffiths had the same broad background covering dinosaurs that Switek has, but she must–because she came up with the same goofy extinction theories as Switek did! She didn't credit Switek or mention him, but we know she read his story because she links to his–in one highlighted word in her 6th graf. (It's easy to miss.)
This is clever, and it saves a lot of time. It's also detestable, unfair, and not nice. In a Facebook post, Switek used what I believe is the technical term for this kind of borrowing:
But that's not quite the end of the story. Elsewhere on the same day, Aug. 6, Ed Yong put up a post at his Not Exactly Rocket Science blog at National Geographic's Phenomena entitled, "Here's What Happens Inside You When a Mosquito Bites," with incredible video showing the mouth parts of a mosquito searching for blood vessels underneath the skin of a mouse. And on Aug. 7, Ellie Zolfagharifard of the Daily Mail showed up with "What REALLY happens when a mosquito bites." Same videos, same stuff. She credits Yong's post in her fifth graf, without mentioning him by name until much further in the story when she puts some of his writing in quotation marks and says it's from "Ed Yong writing in National Geographic." She goes on to borrow more from Yong's post, including quotes that he obtained from the researchers involved.
Again, this is a great time saver. Why expend all the effort to match Yong's story when it's so much easier to just take it?
Not nice, Daily Mail. Not nice.