The Times has been accused of “byline banditry” over its treatment of a news story bought from the Daily Mail which originated with a freelance journalist.
Sheron Boyle wrote a story about the oldest ballet dancer in the country passing an exam aged 80 which was printed in Monday’s Daily Mail and appeared under her byline.
- September 13, 2021
- March 22, 2019
- September 13, 2018
The story was purchased for republication by The Times, which ran the story in its Tuesday edition. The paper gave Boyle a shared byline, putting her name after a staff reporter.
Responding to the decision, Boyle tweeted: “Sad to see byline banditry being practised on my ballet dancer story in The Times today.
“Valentine Low you are old enough to know you’ve just reordered my story. Your name should not be on it at all – hope you rectify it online.
“My stories are my commercial property as a freelance journo.”
She later added: “Newspaper execs need freelance journalists & vice versa. I am a one-person agency. My work is my property & income. The Times John Witherow should respect that. You lifted my work word for word virtually – unprofessional & wrong.”
Boyle also claims she had to chase The Times about receiving a byline on the story.
Decisions over placement of bylines would be made by editors and sub-editors rather than reporters.
Speaking to Press Gazette, Boyle said: “For all freelance journalists, our work is our life. We are not charities, we are businesses and we have to make as much money as possible and get as much recognition as possible for our work, especially exclusives.
“With staff cut to the bone, freelances are more vital than ever for papers. But freelances need to sell their stories and as I always say, it is a symbiotic relationship.
“Historically, they have just ripped off and lifted our stories, but they can’t do it these days.”
Boyle was involved in a previous case of byline banditry in 2013 when a staff journalist at The Sun wanted a split byline with her on a piece she submitted to the paper.
Then editor of The Sun David Dinsmore called Boyle and promised to ban the practice of staff reporters taking bylines for pieces submitted by freelances, after Boyle wrote about her experiences for Press Gazette.
The Times has not commented.
Press Gazette understands that Boyle was paid for the second use of her story.