Kent Messenger Group editorial director Simon Irwin has written to the editors of the Daily Mail and The Sun after quotes from his paper’s exclusive interview with the wife of jailed actor Chris Langham appeared in their newspapers.
The interview was sent to them via Kent News and Pictures, and Kent Messenger editor Bob Bounds has complained that the stories were ‘virtual repeats’of what had appeared in his paper.
The Kent Messenger Group currently has a policy of discouraging journalists from contacting the nationals to sell on stories, but Bounds has said that this policy may now be reviewed.
He said: ‘We are not naÃ¯ve enough to think that agencies do not pore over regional newspapers and flog stories, but they were virtual repeats of our story. This was a genuine exclusive and they have simply lifted wholesale quotes from it and passed it on as their own work.
‘Editors within the group and senior editorial executives are looking to review practices in light of the Langham interview and to see whether we can better protect our material and the work of our staff.
‘We won’t be setting up our own news agency at the moment but this has opened our eyes to the fact that we are leaving a gaping hole for these news agencies that thrive on using other people’s work.
‘We have a policy that we do not encourage our reporters to get on the phone to the nationals because it is a difficult thing to control. I’ve been in newsrooms where there is a culture of stringing to the nationals and it is unhelpful; reporters know that if they have a story that’s not been published it’s worth a lot more.”
News editor at Kent News and Pictures Stian Alexander said: ‘It’s in the public domain; agencies look at them. Our copy will be a hell of a lot better than what would have appeared in the KM, however we are not in the practice of changing quotes.
‘If nobody filed on this only a few people in Kent would have known that Christopher Langham’s wife had spoken out – of course we file on it, and we had extra detail about her visiting him in prison and detail from the court case that was not included in the KM’s front page.”