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Posts Tagged ‘New Rochelle’

Patch Admits it Lifted Photo From Local Blogger

AOL Patch has admitted it was wrong in lifting a photo off a local blog in New Rochelle, NY. In an email to Talk of the Sound blogger Robert Cox, Patch.com editor-in-chief Brian Farnham admitted the New Rochelle Patch local editor Allison Esposito misled her editors when questioned about the photo, and in fact lifted the picture.

This is even worse, considering the Hudson Valley regional editor for Patch Kathleen Ryan O’Connor wrote to MJD on Tuesday to say “Allison Esposito, did not plagiarize anything from Mr. Cox’s blog in any form.” She then added, “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.”

That prompted Cox to respond via his blog, outlining all the steps he took when altering the pictures in photoshop. Farnham has now apologized to Cox and to clarify that O’Connor was misled. “The image she [Esposito] posted was, in fact, a download of the composite image you made from the police mug shots,” wrote Farnham in an email to Cox. “I sincerely apologize for this unattributed and unauthorized use of your image. We have extremely high standards of journalism here at Patch, and Allison did not live up to them. Her behavior was unacceptable and we are taking immediate disciplinary action. The image has already been removed from our story.”

“As this is all I had asked — remove it or give me credit — I consider the matter closed,” said Cox in an email to MJD.

You can read Mr. Farnham’s entire email to Cox after the jump.

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New Rochelle Blogger Responds to Patch

AOL’s Patch responded to claims that its recently launched New Rochelle site lifted a photo off of another local blog, calling any “presentation of those public images is purely coincidental” earlier today. Before I published AOL’s response, I asked the Talk of the Sound blogger Robert Cox, who’s making the claims, to respond to Patch’s statement. He decided to do so via his site, and he’s not backing down from the allegations.

In the post, he explains the troubles he had when cropping the mug shots of three suspects from a murder case in the New Rochelle, New York area, explaining why the resemblance is far from coincidental. It’s a detailed rundown of each step he took when cropping the photo. Here’s a snip-it of his explanation:

“The photo of Smith [one of the suspects] has a great deal of space around him and he is, relatively, very small in the photo. I am not that proficient in Adobe Photoshop so I just eye-balled it and cropped a rectangle around his head — a totally random crop that was meant to be as close to the other two as possible but random nonetheless.”

And here are the two photos posted on Talk of the Sound with the New Rochelle Patch’s version on the bottom. [It's important to note that these mug shots are of suspects, not convicted criminals. I've posted the picture solely to add visuals for what I'm talking about in the argument between Patch and Talk of the Sound.]

As Cox mentions, mug shots are in the public domain and can’t be plagiarized, but it’s a different scenario once those mug shots are cropped. Cox has even gone as far as to ask the New Rochelle editor to publish the email she may have sent to the police department requesting the mug shots.

But it’s hard to see a clear end to this. I doubt Cox should continue to pursue Patch on the topic; while, I’m sure Patch just doesn’t want to hear about the picture anymore. However, on the bigger picture scale, this is the world AOL has entered into. It’s just a mug shot, but whether or not the photo was lifted, there’s no doubt this is bad press for the local Patch.

More importantly, this could happen to any of the other Patch sites, and the local blogging scene will call out each and every mistake. And without much editorial oversight, it’s putting both the young editor and the local blogs in a tough position. Welcome to the neighborhood.

New Rochelle Patch Responds to Charges of Plagiarism, Bias

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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