The Daily Telegraph has been accused of using a series of fake bylines to make agency news copy appear to have been written in-house.
Private Eye magazine claimed it had found evidence of seven made-up Telegraph sports journalist names – Oliver Clive, Austin Peters, Charles Carrick, Matthew Hannah, William Grey, Perry Crooke and Dan Harbles.
Their reports are very similar to other newspaper stories credited as coming from agencies, according to research by the journalism ethics group the Media Standards Trust.
Its director, Martin Moore, used the group’s Journalisted website – which records every story written by a national newspaper journalist – to compare their work with other newspaper articles on the same subject.
Writing on the Media Standards Trust blog, Moore said: “I looked up their profiles on Journalisted, checked their articles, and found that many of them bore a remarkable similarity to articles in other newspapers that were either not bylined or credited to agencies.”
He added: “I’m aware that news organisations have, for a very long time, published articles that bear a remarkable similiarity to agency copy with a byline from one of their own journalists. But inventing non-existent journalists is a step on from this.”
A Telegraph Media Group spokeswoman declined to comment when approached by Press Gazette today.
But a Telegraph source did not deny the practice was taking place when contacted by the Media Standards Trust for a comment.
“It was not, he suggested, a big deal – and was done more than anything for ‘design reasons’, because it looked odd to have an article without a byline,” Moore said.
“Even if one accepts that, in an age of print, this was a common and recognised inside practice, does that make it justified?”