NewsNet returns awards due to flawed Web site


Copyright 2003, BYU NewsNet

NewsNet, returned two national Internet awards Friday, May 30, after learning that portions of a Web building instruction site had been used in the redesign of the NewsNet home page.

“It”s really clear. We made a mistake and we are apologizing for it,” said Jim Kelly, NewsNet general manager. “It appears to be an ethical issue and not a legal one.”

Kelly sent letters of apology to CNET Networks, parent company for, the Web site from which NewsNet employees copied material, and to the sponsors of the two awards.

NewsNet received the second place EPpy award for Best College Newspaper Online Service in a competition sponsored by Editor & Publisher, a magazine for the newspaper industry.

On May 29, Kelly said he learned NewsNet”s home page received a second award from the University of Missouri”s chapter of the Society of Newspaper Design.

Both awards were sent back to the sponsors Friday.

A concerned BYU student notified NewsNet staff in April of the similarities in the Web sites, said Daryl Gibson, NewsNet managing director-production.

Gibson said he immediately began to make changes to the NewsNet site to distance it from the design of the copied Web page,

“It will get more changes – we”re going to redesign the whole thing,” Gibson said.

Modifications made to the NewsNet Web site included changes to the color palette and to the type of line boundaries between Web page sections. Several icons were also altered or removed, Gibson said.

Gibson talked with the two students involved in the construction of the NewsNet home page and said he does not think the students acted maliciously.

“When you”re on the Web you look around and see what you like and you model it,” Gibson said. “These students didn”t understand the nature of copyright, as many students on campus do not.”

NewsNet is reviewing the situation with both students, even though one is already graduated, said Carri Jenkins, assistant to the president for University Communications.

The Honor Code Office has not been notified of the incident at this point because the issue is in NewsNet”s hands, Jenkins said.

Kelly said the pending redesign of the NewsNet Web site will not involve either of the students who participated in replicating portions of

NewsNet is the parent organization for The Daily Universe, KBYU-TV News, KBYU-FM News, View From The Y Web-radio and the NewsNet Web site.

“We hope this won”t blur the view of our readers,” said Leigh Dethman, managing editor for NewsNet. “We messed up, but we will do everything in our power to prove ourselves and get our readers” trust back.”

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