Local Papers Accuse Courant of Content Theft

The decline of print media is very interesting to me. For all the scorn heaped on cable news for the nosedive of public trust in the media, I think an equal amount of blame should go to those newspapers that have failed their mandate. Today we have another story from this vein. The full story can be found at the Journal Inquirer [Edit: story now outside paywall, paywall nonetheless absurd], but some excerpts and the gist are as follows:

Essentially a number of local papers including the JI, Waterbury Republican-American, Torrington Register-Citizen, Bristol Press, and New Britain Herald are accusing the Hartford Courant of various forms of content theft, in some cases “the Courant appears to have lifted information from the other papers in its entirety without any attribution.”

In a posting on his Courant blog, Rick Green responded to the allegations derisively:

Please. Jim knows as well as anyone that TV, radio, small and big papers, and the AP have been doing this for years. It’s obnoxious and you should attribute what you use, but to pretend that the Courant has all of a sudden started on a plagiarism binge is pretty silly.

——–

I think Mr. Green is on the right track about what is obnoxious about this situation, but isn’t quite there yet. The Attorney General has said that he would be willing to investigate any illegality, but has yet to receive any formal complaints.

Thoughts?

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14 responses to “Local Papers Accuse Courant of Content Theft

  1. Because of the Internet – and sites like this one – newspapers will be dead before the next Presidential election. You can bank on it.

  2. This is a non-issue since few people put much stock in what the Courant reports anymore.

  3. Well, no. The attorney general said its beyond his perview. No point in getting involved in a cat and dog fight when you are depending upon the cat and the dog for publicity and succor.

  4. I don’t think I’d like working for the Courant’s new management.

    One thing I learned over the years: it’s great to work for growing industries. Declining industries are not fun. The hatchets come out, the backstabbing increases, the quality goes out the window as does intellectual honesty.

    Unlike Vince I don’t see a quick end to the Courant. I do expect it will become even more of a Hartford and immediate suburbs paper leaving towns like Torrington, Enfield, and Manchester to newstand sales. Subscribers ioutside of the Hartford burbs will get regional papers like the JI and TRC. The Courant will have more of a minority and alt-lifestyle focus and be a propoganda arm of the Democrats in the Hartford region. The signs are there now.

  5. You can bank on it.

    All things considered; is that still a good phrase?

  6. I’ve been reading the comments on Rick Green’s post. Very, very interesting.

  7. Green just put up a new blog post “This isn’t about the sort of small-time poaching that has been going on for years, but something far different.”

    http://blogs.courant.com/rick_green/2009/08/plagiarism-courant-journal-inquirer-tribune-aggregation.html

  8. Well, Green was big enough to admit he was wrong. Good for him. Apparently, the Courant was using the work of other reporters on other papers as if these papers were a free AP service. But aggregators are bound to flirt with plagiarism. The real problem is that the Courant, having thrown a good portion of its news staff off the ship, may no longer have the resources to cover town news as it once did. The solution to this problem is not to borrow news on the cheap from other papers but to expand its staff – which is expensive. The paper’s owners are in bankruptcy.

  9. I expected the Courant’s iTown section would evolve to be aggregations from other newspapers. Fully attributed as such and maintained by other papers to promote click throughs to the JI or TRC depending on the region. In that scenario the JI or TRC would control the content to display the best teasers for clickthroughs to their websites.

  10. “Links” to the JI, the Waterbury Republican American and possibly some other papers will take to to a teaser graph, unless you subscribe to those papers.

  11. story now outside paywall, paywall nonetheless absurd
    Why is it absurd? Doesn’t good journalism require feet on the ground and hard work? Where are the resources supposed to come from if almost everyone gives it away for free?
    Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports and Practical Sailor seem to do okay charging for content.

  12. The problem for me with paying for content is:

    1) it should be inexpensive microsales… say no more than $0.25 max for a highly recommended read; and

    2) I’d want to pay with a credit card which raises security issues… and for a nickel, dime or quarter… it’d be tough to sell me that it’s worth it, since I could still go to (drumroll please GC)… my local library!

    Anyway, I have absolutely no problem with paying for content online. I’m just concerned about security. Of course, I use my CC’s online. But buying a plane ticket for a couple hundred bucks seems worth it to me… not that there’s any real logic in differentiating. Perhaps I sense that for a few hundred bucks, the security will be tighter? But for a few pennies… how will the paper ever cover the costs of security? Maybe it could be done through a nationwide clearinghouse? But then that would attract crooks probably.

  13. Maybe banks could start issuing microcredit cards or microdebit cards? Say… you pay $1 / month user fee… and have $50 in it. It would be designed specifically for web-based microsales.

    If the banks could automate it and keep down overhead, it may work. Or maybe that’s the gist of PayPal? I’m not a user, so I have no idea what exactly paypal does.

  14. Yep. The best website on usability made this case long ago.
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/980125.html
    The predictions and numbers are now laughable, but give the guy a break — it was 1998!

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