At a special Orange County Press Club emergency board meeting convened last month, president Christopher Trela was asked to explain three alleged incidents of plagiarism committed in December and January at the Newport Beach Independent. He then left the room and those present voted unanimously (8-0, with one abstention) to keep him on as head of the organization.
Among the many strange twists in the OC Press Club’s investigation of Trela’s transgressions is the fact that the efforts to determine exactly what transpired in the pages of his community newspaper encompassed a board member, Roger Bloom, who Trela succeeded last November as editor of the Newport Beach Independent.
Trela was kind enough to share with FishbowlLA the notes that he used at that special board meeting. The first alleged incident of plagiarism was a December 18, 2012 item about the Fashion Island mall shooter titled “Suspect to be Arraigned Today for Firing Weapong in Fashion Island Parking Lot.” At issue was the fact that Trela cut, pasted and then tweaked press release copy from the D.A.’s office. Per Trela’s notes:
The news group editor for [parent company] Firebrand Media forwarded the D.A.’s press release to me about the arraignment […] I posted the release, but cleaned it up because I thought some of it was not well written. It was posted under my name – when things are posted to the [Independent] website, there is a drop-down menu of contributor names, and you have to select a name to attribute the article to. I thought that was the proper procedure.