Journalistic rip-off or just a coincidence?

Business Insider and Deadspin writers hit the same note at virtually the same time

Here's a little inside baseball (about a football scandal) that's either an example of blogger-on-blogger crime or merely a notable coincidence.

I'm leaning hard toward the latter.

Sports Illustrated today published a story about the Oklahoma State University football program that painted a not-at-all-surprising picture of players receiving envelops filled with cash, most of it petty but some more substantial. In reading online reactions to the SI piece, I first noticed this one from Deadspin writer Tom Ley, which drew attention to the article's "most important part," its final paragraph:

deadspin

Ley's point: The real scandal here is that athletes whose full-time work generates millions of dollars sometimes don't have pizza money in their pockets.

Right after reading that I spotted another bit of commentary from Business Insider writer Tony Manfred highlighting the story's "most important thing," namely that same final paragraph.

BI1
BI2

Manfred's point: The real scandal here is that athletes whose full-time work generates millions of dollars sometimes don't have pizza money in their pockets.

Being a suspicious sort (and knowing this business) my first thought was that one of these writers ripped off the other. However, a look at the time stamps on the blog posts shows that while Manfred got there first, his item appears to have been published only 17 minutes ahead of Ley's. That brief of a gap suggests coincidence as the more likely explanation.  (Though it's worth noting that some publishing systems, such as Drupal, which I am using at the moment, issue a time stamp that indicates when a file was created, not when it was published.)

So I'm calling it a coincidence, absent any compelling evidence of journalistic thievery.

And as for the single point the two bloggers offered? Well, that was well worth making twice.

(Update: Not that either needed to do so, but Ley and Manfred have tweeted to me their assurances that this was indeed a coincidence. Ley even included photographic “evidence” in the form of a screen capture of a group chat among Deadspin staffers where his take on the SI story was proposed. Case, such as it was, closed.)

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