Friday, November 20, 2009

Hartford Courant Now Impersonating the Huffington Post

Geez, I thought only low-rent websites did stuff like this.
Newspapers have tried many ways to cover the news with dwindling resources: dropping certain topics, having people do double duty, using more wire service work. Routine plagiarism is not usually an option, but a lawsuit contends that it was for a while at The Hartford Courant.

The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, Conn., has sued The Courant, the state’s largest paper, saying that it copied The Journal Inquirer’s work in articles published last summer, a time when The Courant was also, in a subsequent admission, lifting material from several other northern Connecticut newspapers.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Connecticut Superior Court in Hartford, cites 11 Courant articles it says were largely taken from The Journal Inquirer in August and September, and The Journal Inquirer has cited other examples taken from other papers.

Plagiarism has cropped up as an occasional transgression at many publications, but it is rarely exposed as a regular practice. Calls to executives at The Courant, which is owned by the Tribune Company of Chicago, were not returned.

Online, The Courant credited many if not all of the articles to the original newspapers, Richard P. Weinstein, The Journal Inquirer’s lawyer, said. But in print, the attribution was often dropped, and the byline of a Courant writer was added. The articles were rearranged and rewritten to some extent, but some phrases from the originals remained intact.

The suit addresses only examples when no credit was given to The Journal Inquirer, but Mr. Weinstein said that even with attribution, the extent of copying violated the law. He held out the possibility that the suit could be amended to add more examples.

Mr. Weinstein said that, historically, The Courant was highly respected and was the most important news source in the region, but coming after deep newsroom cuts, the plagiarism “is just a sad, sad comment.”

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