'Plagiarism' of 'Tribune' denounced

Sun, Feb 6, 2011, 00:00

The Sunday Tribune newspaper has described as “shameless” moves by a rival paper to plagiarise its front page.

Copies of the Irish Mail on Sunday went on sale today with a similiar masthead and front page to the Sunday Tribune.

Tribune Newspapers, which publishes the Sunday title, was placed into receivership last Tuesday after Independent News Media (INM) withdrew its financial backing.

The newspaper was not published today and will not be published during the four-week period of receivership.

The Tribune accused the Irish Mail on Sunday of attempting to take advantage of its financial difficulties by publishing a similar front page.

“I am appalled and shocked that another newspaper would stoop so low to plagiarise a front page lookalike of the Sunday Tribune with the naked ambition of gaining extra circulation,” Sunday Tribune editor Noirín Hegarty said in a statement today.

The Mail On Sunday has shown in this act that it will leave no stone unturned in the race to the bottom.”

“This attempt at burial of a still alive corpse and grave robbing by the Mail Group is a shameless act of commercial vandalism and I would beseech the fair-minded Irish Sunday newspaper audience to fight back by refusing to buy its titles,” she said.

Ms Hegarty said management and staff were working “flat out” with receiver Jim Luby to keep the newspaper afloat.

“We are talking about 43 jobs in Ireland here, not extra remuneration for Associated Newspapers back in the UK,” she said.

The Irish Mail on Sunday's editor Sebastian Hamilton described the move as a marketing exercise, designed to persuade as many Sunday Tribune readers as possible to keep buying newspapers.

"The Mail employs 161 people here in Dublin - almost four times as many as the Tribune. The Irish Mail on Sunday is written here, edited here, printed and produced here, with a track record of powerful investigations - from Bertie Ahern's finances and Ivor Callely's expenses to today's revelations about Fine Gael funding," he said.

"If today's marketing exercise encourages more people to buy a paper today, surely that is something we should encourage," he said.

But Séamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, condemned as “crass and cynical” the move to reproduce the Sunday Tribune masthead in an attempt to attract Tribune readers.

“This was a cynical marketing exercise and represents a new low in Irish journalism. There can be no justification for the decision to reproduce the Sunday Tribune masthead instead of the Sunday Mail’s own masthead.”

The defence offered by the paper is "disingenuous," he said.

"Even in a fiercely competitive market there must be respect for basic standards of decency. This was an attempt to confuse readers and to cash in on the crisis at the Sunday Tribune in a crass manner which does no credit to the Irish Mail on Sunday or publishers, Associated Newspapers," Mr Dooley said.