AbolHolNews: The satire that made fool of Arab media outlets


Plagiarism usually hurts. But it didn’t in this case.

A few weeks ago, the production company that I founded with with three amazing others of of my colleagues started Egypt’s first satirical news website in Arabic: AbolHolNews.Com 

The up and coming project is being led by partner and digital marketer Loai Nagati, a veteran social media guru who previously worked for Al Masry Al Youm and Shorouk News.

One of the fake news stories we published on the site talked of Swedish police using “laughter gas” to disperse a women rights protest.

It’s entirely made up; the story, the sources in it, their names, and quotations. But who would you guess in your wildest dreams have fallen into believing and propagating this story ?: leading Arab and Egyptian media outlets.

There are countless other websites of no serious professional weight that have plagiarized the story.

First, I was notified by a friend of mine on Twitter that Shorouk has published our fake story. I go to the link. I find Shorouk citing Al Arabiya.net as a source.

I go to Al Arabiya.net to find the story plagiarized and copied verbatim from our satirical news site. Their creativity went as far as adding to the plagiarized article that it’s “based on Swedish newspapers published Tuesday.”

Then we find Al Hurra website plagiarizing our content as is from AbolHolNews.

Then we find Egypt’s Akhbar Al Youm plagiarizing in the same way.

Shortly before I write this post, I was yet again shocked to find the online portal of Egypt’s possibly oldest newspaper, Al Ahram,  publishing the story in an act of … brrrr … grrrr … plagiarism 

What’s even more ironic is that Al-Kompis, the Swedish website tasked with presenting Swedish news to Arab-speaking audience has also plagiarized and published our story alleging in the byline that it’s based on “agencies” or “wires.”

As soon as we realized what happened, the laughter we sounded exceeded the pain of feeling plagiarized. We couldn’t truly believe that Al Arabiya, Shorouk, Al Hurra, Akhbar Al Youm, Ahram, and so many others swallowed this bait.

It was never intended to go that way.

What this story revealed is how common plagiarism is tolerated in Arab and Egyptian newsrooms with the exception of a few. Who was responsible for vetting whatever is getting published ? Are these reputable news websites or undeserving fools and plagiarists ?

Where are the editors who should have checked, let alone fact-checked, what is being published ? 

We’ve mentioned the Twitter handles of these outlets with our subsequent “reaction story” making fun of what they did. Only Shorouk has just silently removed the story but the rest .. are not aware yet. And as you can see from the hyperlinks above, you can still check the plagiarized stories online.

To the date of publishing this article, plagiarized links from these reputable websites are still being shared and liked.

Farewell to journalism.

Original story here: http://abolholnews.com/?p=123

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