On Valentine's Day, Dallas police arrested 41-year-old Jacqueline Edwards on suspicion of setting up at least two Craigslist robberies. The news first appeared Tuesday on WFAA's website. An hour later, DallasBlack.com had the story.
Nothing particularly suspicious there. The WFAA story is little more than a summary of a arrest affidavit. Even if the station got the story first, the facts are all publicly available.
The weird thing here is the Dallas Black's piece matches WFAA's word for word. From the all-caps "DALLAS" dateline to the closing line about a "mystery suspect," it's all the same.
Poke around a bit, and you'll find that the Craigslist robber isn't the only story DallasBlack.com has lifted. Here's one about an 18-year-old burglar caught after leaving his wallet behind, also borrowed from WFAA. The Dallas Black story even lists Tanya Eiserer's byline.
Nor is the practice limited to local crime stories. Here's a Dallas Black post on Kanye West collaborating with American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis. Here's the same story, word-for-word, on MTV.com. This post it took from Radar Online.
This first popped onto my radar maybe a year ago when an Unfair Park story appeared on the site, then a second. The articles were subsequently taken down and I've seen no others, so I stopped paying attention. But while DallasBlack.com may have stopped grabbing stories from the Observer, it's still engaged in the wholesale taking of other journalists' work.
A DallasBlack.com representative -- I was connected to him after asking for the publisher, but he wouldn't give his name -- described this as standard practice.
Some content is produced by DallasBlack.com contributors, he said. "Some stuff, we see something on the Internet that we think people will find of interest and we regurgitate it."
Does DallasBlack.com ever pull down posts in response to copyright claims?
"I don't think I have to answer that question," he said, adding that "if someone did call wanting us to pull us down, yeah we would." (Note: in addition to the Observer, you'll be hard-pressed to find a Morning News story on the site, so Belo's lawyers may have been in touch).
And does the site see any problems with lifting other people's work?
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"I totally appreciate you calling," he said. Then, as we asked for his name, click.
It should go without saying, but DallasBlack.com should know better. This isn't some dude in his living room with a personal blog. It's a for-profit media venture that sells ads and everything. It counts 33,000 followers on Facebook and 18,000 on Twitter.
Its parent company, Abstract Concepts Inc., offices in Deep Ellum and is touted on the Deep Ellum Community Association's website as a 15-year-old "interactive marketing firm that develops and markets niche portal websites and marketing-advertising strategies that target the African American and Latino consumer."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.