Update: [A day after Patch responded to plagiarism, denying the claim that the local editor lifted a photo, Patch admitted that their statement below was based on false information. The company has since acknowledged that local editor Allison Esposito lifted the photo then lied about it to her editors. Here's the email Patch editor-in-chief sent to the New Rochelle blogger for Talk of the Sound Robert Cox, admitting the mistake.]

Yesterday in the nightly roundup, I mentioned a claim by a local blog in the New Rochelle, New York area that charged AOL’s Patch with plagiarism. Talk of the Sound managing editor Robert Cox wrote a post saying that the New Rochelle Patch editor Allison Esposito took photos from Talk of the Sound and published it on the Patch.

“As readers know, we like to publish a photo across the full column of most stories. In this case, I obtained the three mug shots from NRPD and then used Adobe Photoshop to make a single image containing all three mug shots, cropped, along with a caption indicating the names of each suspect,” wrote Cox. “As is plain from looking at the image file on AOL Patch, Ms. Esposito lifted that image from Talk of the Sound, chopped off the caption with the names and presented it as her own work.”

AOL Patch has responded to the claim. In an email from the Hudson Valley regional editor for Patch, Katie Ryan O’Connor said “Allison Esposito, did not plagiarize anything from Mr. Cox’s blog in any form.” She goes on to add that “The objects in question — police generated mug shots — are publicly available and any similarity to Mr. Cox’s presentation of those public images is purely coincidental. Linking mug shots together in Photoshop (in this case, apparently doing nothing more than placing three similar sized objects in a row) is standard operating procedure for news organizations everywhere.”

But that’s not all. Cox has made claims that Esposito, who worked as communications director for Democratic Assemblywoman Amy Paulin in the New Rochelle area for about a year, is actually a “democratic political operative.” O’Connor brushes off that accusation as well.

“Here’s the truth: Like so many journalists faced with finding work in an industry that is shedding jobs at a rapid pace… Ms. Esposito took jobs in other fields that would utilize her writing and editing skills, most recently working as a communications director for Democratic Assemblywoman Amy Paulin,” wrote O’Connor. “She held that position for only about 12 months. During an extensive interview process, Ms. Esposito made it clear her first and foremost passion was journalism and has been working to find her way back into a full-time reporting and editing position ever since.”

O’Connor added that Esposito makes her political past clear in her biography, and the site (which has only been live since last Thursday) has not published anything out of the ordinary for or against the current town administrators.

I’ve emailed Cox for a response, and will post if I hear back from him. But this sounds more like a turf war than anything else, and maybe what many of the Patch editors will have to get used to as they encroach on areas that already have an active and motivated blogging circle.

You can read the entire Patch response after the jump.

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