If I report the same news story as someone else, is that duplicate content?

If you just take an article with exactly the same text then probably users do not want to see multiple copies of it on the Search Engine Results Pages.

They probably want to see the site that is more authoritative, the site that gives original reporting or the site that reports their own version.

If you have expertise on the topic, at least rewrite the article or part of the article. If you are not adding anything new, your duplicate version is likely to get lost in the noise in terms of being found on the Internet although it should be easily accessible to your website visitors.

The Google duplicate content penalty has been debated extensively although the search engine clarified the situation 5 years ago. That page remains current – http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/demystifying-duplicate-content-penalty.html
Google makes it clear that their concern is that potentially, they could provide several pages in their results pages with substantially similar content.
• If you acknowledge the primary source including the link to it, then clearly you are not trying to deceive. “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive. By acknowledging the primary source of the information we are making it clear that the news comes from that other website.
• The content is never a complete copy but has a few ‘upgrades’ or comments.

twins-marrying-460_779941c[1]If you are not adding anything then Google does not want to show it. But that does not mean that you will be penalised. If you find an article that might be of interest to your readers, there is no harm if you place it on your website but it is advisable to place a link to the original article acknowledging the source. By doing so, Google will understand that you are not being deceitful. To demonstrate that you are adding to Internet value, place a sentence or two explaining why you have syndicated the article: e.g. This article is interesting because……………

Although nature creates identical twins, they are never absolutely identical.

Matt Cutts GoogleWebmasterHelp Video May 2012

SMX Seattle: Matt Cutts on Duplicate Content and Paid Search

The problem arises if someone duplicates your content before the search engines have cached your content.

If you have an article, ensure there is a link back to your website identifying who the original author is.

Every webmaster has the right to do as they please but Google has the right to decide how it runs its index. Google has recommendations that amount to best practice.

There is a risk involved with reciprocal links. Matt mentions that ‘four-way links’ are against Google – ie anything to do with reciprocal linking seems inappropriate. (@ 5mins and 20 seconds)

SMX Seattle: Matt Cutts on Duplicate Content and Paid Search June 2017