ASK US WEDNESDAY: “Should I say no to a job that requires ripping off other sites?”

by Rachel Smith
17 July 2019

I’m going for an in-house contract and the job spec requires huge content output – 15-20 pieces of content a day, mainly by ripping off other sites. Just wondering your thoughts on doing a job like this when starting out? Anon

Re-nosing and or re-wording packaged content is hardly a big ask for someone who loves stringing words together from a practical writing point of view.  However, if you’re asking about the moral and ethical dilemma of ripping off other sites – well, that’s a whole different story.

For me, ripping off newswires was the death knell of working on weekly women’s mags (that I won’t name).  As along with countless others news editors, I was forced to regurgitate gossipy stories that I had no way of knowing were genuine or not.

You also need to consider that you’re potentially ripping off the work of local journalists like you who’ve toiled to put a story together, convince interviewees to talk about a sensitive topic and were probably not paid a huge amount. Those journos who then watch their work being chopped up and sensationalised on a site that goes on to get the lion’s share of the clicks is beyond devastating. Investigative journalists like Ginger Gorman have been very vocal about how damaging this practice is to the industry.

And I’m guessing, because you’ve decided to remain anonymous, that this is the kind of gig that you’ve only told your housemate about during a drunk Netflix session. Ripping off other sites is not right and not the way to start a career. It’s also a slippery slope into obscurity. So short answer: I don’t think it’s a good move. Hold out for a job that’ll ensure you can sleep at night.

Have you done a job similar to this? How did you deal with it?

Rachel Smith

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