The Kaplan Herald’s version of a Dec. 25 story.


Unable to read an Anchorage Daily News story because you don’t want to pay to subscribe?

Try the Kaplan Herald. You can read a lot of the exact same ADN copy there for free!

“Weed on a plane: How Alaska companies get pounds of pot on board, with police blessing” blocked at 

Don’t worry. The Herald has the exact same story almost word for word right down to the headline. 

The only difference appears to be that the Herald changed the plane to  “aircraft” and pounds to “kilos” in the headline. Obviously better for international readers.

And, of course, the Herald took the name of reporter Laurel Andrews off it’s version of the story. The author of the Herald story is identified only as “Kaplan Contributor.”

ADN weed

The original ADN story


Welcome to the internets

All of the reporters at the Kaplan Herald appear to share the same name: “Kaplan Contributor.”

The Kaplin Herald did not respond to an email from The Herald has no phone number.

The website appears to be a robot run off a server in Lansing, Mich. This robot appears to crawl around in the tubes scraping up URLs, stripping bylines and replacing actual flesh-and-blood reporters with “Kaplan Contributors.”

Scott McMurren, the well-known travel columnist for the ADN, was much surprised to learn he was a “Kaplan Contributor.” Andrews, if she doesn’t already know about this, might be surprised, too.

And all of this must be fine because you can find the Kaplan Herald stories in Google News, and Google has made a big deal of expanding its efforts to end internet abuses.

“Last month, we updated our Search Quality Rater Guidelines to provide more detailed examples of low-quality webpages for raters to appropriately flag, which can include misleading information, unexpected offensive results, hoaxes and unsupported conspiracy theories,” Ben Gomes, Google’s vice-president for engineering reported back in April. “These guidelines will begin to help our algorithms in demoting such low-quality content and help us to make additional improvements over time.”

The big focus then, of course, was on “fake news,” a tough beast to kill.

“Today, in a world where tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day, there are new ways that people try to game the system,” Gomes wrote…”the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information.”

There is no doubt about that, but if Google is going to try to get rid of all the “blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive” content passing as news these days, it has undertaken a Herculean task. How exactly does one even begin to define “offensive” in 2017-18.

Maybe Google could better spend its time focusing on the theft of intellectual property.

Theft would seem easier to identify, and that’s the practice in which the Kaplin Herald appears to be engaged. One would think Google could write an algorithm that would identify identical stories and confirm their bona fides.

Legitimate news organizations contract with each other to share copy. It’s not hard to check those connections. Most of them are obvious.

Legitimate news organizations identify the origins of shared stories and leave bylines on them.

It might be a simple giveaway when a website like the Kaplin Herald pops up with all  stories attributed to “Kaplin Contributor,” no contacts name for anyone on the website, no phone number, and an “About” section that says:

“The Kaplan Herald in an independent news site covering business and market news across the globe. We have a number of former analysts and seasoned contributors adding their perspectives to the content on the site. If you need to get in touch with an editor, or would like to become a part of our fast growing team, send an email to”

McMurren and Andrews appear to be among those “seasoned contributors.”

A  McMurren friend claims he reported all of this to Google days ago, but got no response. Maybe it was too busy with video. Google announced at the start of the month it was hiring 10,000 “content viewers” to help clean up YouTube, a Google owned subsidiary.

CNN reported the YouTube move was driven by objections from advertisers.

“We want advertisers to have peace of mind that their ads are running alongside content that reflects their brand’s values,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told CNN. “Equally, we want to give creators confidence that their revenue won’t be hurt by the actions of bad actors.”

Maybe Google should divert a few of those “content viewers” to patrolling for internet rip offs in the interest of simple integrity.















5 replies »

  1. The search engines could easily fix this and easily block other fraudulent sites. Until one of them does it the others won’t because it would cost money and open themselves up to “freedom of speech” lawsuits.

  2. Paying for “news” is going the way of the buggy whip. There are so many sources of information in the world today.
    In Craigs case, the content is free. But I chose to contribute because I appreciate the depth of his history here, his stories and willingness to tackle controversial subjects. Also, maybe there is more value to paying not to be deluged with ads and sapping readers data and speed limits.
    The ADN depends on print advertising to a large degree I believe. It would be interesting to see how their ad revenues and rates have declined. And what percent is digital revenue. Another note: The Press says they are now profitable although their product is free. It appears to me this is entirely the result of marijuana ads.

  3. “I left my wallet on the sidewalk. And someone stole it! I’m mad! Someone should do something about it!”

    “I left my article on the Internet. And someone stole it! I’m mad! Someone should do something about it!”

    The only thing surprising about wallets getting lifted from the sidewalk or articles getting lifted from the Internet, is that there are people that are surprised about this.

    If you don’t want your wallet stolen off the sidewalk, then don’t put your wallet on the sidewalk.

    If you don’t want your article stolen on the Internet, then don’t put your article on the Internet. Distribute your articles on paper. Or get a firewall or dedicated server that people, who are vetted, must log into to access your Intranet. Of course, no one will be able to search and find your articles by doing this. But what do you want? Security or exposure? You can’t have both in the land of Intertubes.

Leave a Reply