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LA Weekly vs. Patch – Part III

Is it a good thing when a media organization desperately in need of spin control hires a PR person whose last name can be phonetically spelled out as as “I-am-you-know”? In the case of newly hired Patch.com point person Janine Iamunno, we think so.

It’s been an active week in the media spotlight for the AOL seed-funded start-up, beginning with our October 12th FBLA item Patch Hits South Pasadena, Press Club. That same day, The Business Insider shared a long and very detailed look at what’s been going with the online local news venture, including some notably forthright let’s-nip-this-in-the-bud reaction comments from Iamunno.

Separately, LA Weekly reporter Dennis Romero – to his credit – took time to comment on our aforementioned October 12th item, right around the time that his newest broadside against Patch was hitting the airwaves. Under the expanded headline Did AOL’s Patch Take Content Again – This Time from an NBC Los Angeles Story About Sand Replenishment in Venice?, Romero examined whether or not the publication of a City News Service (CNS) piece under the byline of Venice Patch local editor Samantha Page may have constituted plagiarism.

We have a couple of observations about Romero’s newest Patch-focused item:

1) Did the author really need to drag NBC Los Angeles into this? As the first comment to the story by Page herself confirms, Venice Patch subscribes directly to CNS. Unless there is some other issue that involves Page cribbing directly from NBC-specific word changes to the original CNS missive (and sorry, but we did not have time to check this), it would have been arguably more ethical of Romero to confirm the CNS subscription directly with Venice Patch, rather than wondering about it aloud in the piece and then having Page confirm in the LA Weekly article comments.

2) Is this an entirely accurate use of the word “plagiarism”? Alongside several article comments by Romero, reader Jason astutely points out that the Patch article mechanism may demand that a user’s name be attached and shown in order for any item to be published. If that’s the case, just as NBC somewhat misleadingly has a “Copyright City News Service / NBC Los Angeles” at the bottom of its Venice newswire item, all Patch needs to do (if they haven’t already) is add a “Patch Newswire Services” select-option to the byline field.

We did not attend last night’s Los Angeles Press Club annual meeeting event featuring Patch west coast editorial director Marcia Parker, but would love to hear from anyone who did. (Update: Romero was there, and his report essentially adds up to LA Weekly vs. Patch – Part IV.)

[Full disclosure: Prior to joining FBLA on October 11th, author Richard Horgan wrote a pair of freelance entertainment articles for Studio City Patch and interviewed for a Los Angeles local editor position.]

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