JC / Railbird

Putting Up the Inquiry Sign

12:50 PM: This post has been edited to include a response from DRF regarding the 2010 Man o’ War piece.

It has been four days since it was announced the Daily Racing Form won a 2017 Eclipse Multimedia Award for a piece primarily created by photographer Barbara Livingston, and four days since I pointed out the apparent reuse of a 2010 blog post about Man o’ War by Livingston in the 2017 multimedia piece. In that time, the DRF has made no comment about the award situation. The Eclipse Awards steering committee is discussing the matter.

A sidebar to the question of the recycled text is the related question of what happened to the 2010 post. It was originally published on October 21, 2010, and the live page was captured by the Internet Archive on December 29, 2015. There is some uncertainty about its accessibility from that time to January 3 of this year — the original URL returned an “Unauthorized” message when I attempted to view it on January 3. The Internet Archive captured an “Access Denied” version of the page on October 2, 2017. I retrieved a version of the post on January 3 from what appeared to be a DRF subdomain page, at this URL, for the purpose of comparing the 2010 and 2017 texts. On January 4, and possibly the evening of January 3, the 2010 post was appearing once again at its original URL.

Other people reported a similar experience, and Chris Rossi summed up the URL’s history in two tweets:

(If you cannot see Rossi’s tweets above this text, you can view a screenshot of his tweets or click to view the tweets on Twitter.)

Odd, but there are numerous reasons a URL might seem to be go missing on the web — Google and Internet Archive take irregular snapshots — and the possible range of time the page may have been inaccessible could not be pinned down using either service.

On Saturday, I received two screenshots taken in March 2017. I have examined the EXIF data of the original files and believe both to be unaltered and to have been created on the dates and times I was given. The images below have been cropped and saved by me to remove potentially identifying information.

The first image shows the 2010 page as cached by Google on March 21, 2017. To be cached, the page would have been live, and accessible, on that date:

A screenshot of the March 21, 2017 Google cache version of the 2010 Man o' War post page on DRF

The second image is a cropped screenshot of a Livingston DRF blog page. The original screenshot was taken on the morning of March 25, 2017. The October 21, 2010 Man o’ War piece is not listed between the bookending posts on October 13, 2010, and October 26, 2010 — both of which, subjected to the same search methods as applied to the October 21, 2010 post, do not give indications of being inaccessible during the same period as the 2010 Man o’ War post appears to have been:

A screenshot of an index page on Barbara Livingston's DRF blog that shows the October 21, 2010 Man o' War post missing from the page on March 25, 2017

The third image is a cropped screenshot of the same Livingston DRF blog page. This screenshot was created by me on the morning of January 7, 2018. You can see that the October 21, 2010 post appears on the page:

A screenshot of an index page on Barbara Livingston's DRF blog that shows the October 21, 2010 Man o' War post present on the page on January 7, 2018

The 2017 multimedia piece was published on DRF on March 24, 2017.

I want to caution — there are many technical and production-related reasons why the 2010 Man o’ War post may have been inaccessible for a time. DRF underwent a major redesign in 2013. All of the DRF blogs were unavailable on the site for a lengthy period. DRF has made several changes to its paywall, including dropping it before the Breeders’ Cup, which could have affected the accessibility of pages, as well as made updates to other backend systems.

Whatever may have happened, it’s an unfortunate coincidence in light of the 2017 multimedia piece winning an Eclipse award.

Edited to include DRF’s response: Asked for comment about what may have happened to the 2010 post, DRF’s Mandy Minger replied:

DRF’s editorial team looked into it and can’t determine how it became unpublished. We believe it possibly happened inadvertently during some backend changes to the site. We didn’t intend to unpublish the original blog and republished it after it was brought to our attention. DRF does not typically remove old editorial content from its site.

The reply is appreciated — without addressing the question, the post’s apparent unpublishing/republishing was feeding a shady perception.