Alan Selby and a spot of byline banditry…

Journalist Alan Selby displays extraordinary lack of moral code…

Let’s get one thing straight. If someone has added something to a story I have written then I have no problems with a credit to that person being put on my copy.

Alan Selby journalist
“Byline Bandit” journalist Alan Selby

But as everyone in this industry knows I write my own stories. I do so for a reason – because I know if I write them they will always be spot on accurate and the interviewee will be happy with their article.

What I do not take kindly to is some oik, who has done absolutely nothing at all to my copy in any way, sticking his name on it as well.

Step forward Mirror reporter Alan Selby. I had never heard of Alan Selby until an interviewee told me she had contacted the Mirror paper to sell her story and he had spoken with her. She was so unimpressed she came running to me to ask if I could do the story instead.

Which I did – that meant doing the interview, sorting the photos, writing the copy, answering sub’s queries and in her case, also researching and writing a medical box to go with the article.

The Mirror were keen that having been told about the story, it would remain with them. I like the Mirror group – The Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People are all papers I respect and have worked with for decades. I always felt I could trust them implicitly to do a story justice and treat freelancers fairly.

Over the next few days Alan Selby – presumably because he had let this story slip through his fingers at the outset – was clearly tasked with simply asking me when the copy would be filed. His emails asking how I was getting on were ridiculous and unnecessary frankly as every editor knows I am able to write copy extremely fast and file within hours. I do not need a reporter hassling me with stupid little emails about when will I be sending the copy over.

ethicsHowever, while an irritant, Alan Selby seemed fairly harmless so I politely replied to him.

Copy was sent. After about three tiny questions from subs that was it. Job done.

So you can imagine my surprise when I opened the Mirror to see Alan Selby had proudly put his name on my copy.

I have emailed Alan Selby – who describes himself on Linkedin  and Twitter as ‘award winning’ to ask him what contribution he made to my story as I would love to know? When he responds I will post it here.

However, I am afraid I am an honest journalist and I speak as I find – hence this blog. I have written on this subject before and most people already know how I feel about byline banditry. Everyone except Alan Selby it seems.  Why Alan Selby thought he could get away with passing off my story as his own I have no idea, but clearly he lacks any moral code (you don’t need to be a graduate to know putting your name on someone else’s work is wrong) and I can only assume he is a bit of an idiot.

Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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