Thursday, March 24, 2016

Professional Discourtesy

We're not in the habit of commenting on the media in general but something happened today that forced our hands. While out to supper, one of the writers on this blog alerted me to a breaking story on Talk in the Block on Q95 radio. She had received a text from a mutual friend who informed her that the show's host, Matt Peltier, was discussing the arrest of an individual in the case against Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng. Mr. Peltier was reporting that the Antigua Observer newspaper was breaking a story today on that subject. 

I tuned in to hear Mr. Peltier detailing the arrest of Julia Vivi Wang and giving information on her alleged connection to officials in the Antigua government. Mr. Peltier and another journalist who he had on the line, were giving the impression that the news item was broken by the Observer. This prompted me to log on to the Observer website to view what the entire debate was about, although I must admit, I was intimately aware of it. I was astonished at what I saw.

An Observer reporter, Kieron Murdoch, had posted a story today giving extensive information on the arrest of Ms. Wang and all the details associated with her arrest by the FBI in a previously sealed criminal complaint. What was amazing about this Observer story was that it was wholly lifted from this blog without any courtesy afforded.

Readers of MiTC know that on Saturday March 19th we broke the story of the arrest of Ms. Wang in New York and we provided voluminous details of the charges against her. The piece entitled "New York Prosecutors moving aggressively" was widely read over the weekend and continues to be read to this day. One of the readers was Observer reporter, Kieron Murdoch. Mr. Murdoch, evidently unaware of the story before having first read about it in MiTC, emailed me late Monday explaining that he had read our report. He went on further to say that he had searched the internet and could not find the documents which MiTC clearly had in its possession, evidence to which was a partial screen-shot of the first page of the sealed complaint. Mr. Murdoch asked me in his email whether I could help him out with a copy of the document. Out of professional courtesy and a desire to assist a fellow colleague, and further recognizing that this document may have far-reaching implications in Antigua, I emailed Mr. Murdoch a pdf of the complaint on Tuesday morning. (I did not read Mr. Murdoch's email until that morning). Mr. Murdoch replied that this is what he needed and he thanked me for sending him a copy of my document.

After listening to Mr. Peltier and reading the story on the Observer online paper, I sent an email to Mr. Murdoch and another reporter at the Observer highlighting the fact that they have just stolen our report, repackaged it and sold it to the Antiguan public as their own. Twelve hours later, I have not received a reply to my email from either reporter. I also submitted two comments on the Observer website, but they are yet to be published, even while several other comments have been. I believe they have been deleted.

We would like Mr. Murdoch and the staff of the Antigua Observer to know that we at MiTC are very skilled in our investigative work. That we were in possession of this document within hours after the case had developed should have alerted you to the fact that we are well-connected and that we may be able to assist you in the future. The UN bribery scandal continues to unfold and seeing that Antiguan diplomatic and governmental officials are intricately involved, we can expect further revelations relating to the Antiguan government.

However, asking us for copies of our documents, lifting our report, shuffling around the words and presenting it to your readers as breaking news when in fact the news was broken by MiTC several days earlier is bad journalism, and then, further complicating this by failing to acknowledge that MiTC is where you got your story from makes for an incompetent organization whose reporters evidently rely on fraud to generate their stories. At the very least you could have informed your readers that you were assisted by this blog; shame on you.

As this case progresses, MiTC will undoubtedly become privy to information and documents that you may be interested in but, lacking access, are unable to get. This display of professional discourtesy is certainly going to give us pause in the future. We hope that you will find the time to sharpen your investigative skills so that you do not have to resort to this behavior in order to inform your public.

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