Louisville Politics plagiarized?

Louisville, KYLouisville Politics has been plagiarized once again. In my opinion anyway. According to Wikipedia, Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “purloining and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions,” and the representation of them as one’s own original work.

Acts of plagiarism may sometimes also form part of a claim for breach of the plagiarist’s contract, or, if done knowingly, for a civil wrong.

Since journalism relies on the public trust, a reporter’s failure to honestly acknowledge their sources undercuts a newspaper or television news show’s integrity and undermines its credibility. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism)

Most of us independent news sources  run on a shoestring budget, to put it mildly, and simply put really don’t have money or resources to spend on lawsuits when we have been plagiarized, yet let someone like us use a Gannett owned Corporation media giant like Courier Journal, or a WDRB story without giving credit and we are in big trouble as these outlets will use every penny they have to sue for infringement.

As such many of us do have ethics and integrity.

We include links to our sources in stories we do that may mimic their content. After all it is the right thing to do. Just ask the local news department heads about it. Check out stories done by outlets such as ours and you will see links to sources everywhere.

We demand it of ourselves and mainstream holds us accountable to it as well.

Which makes it all the more hypocritical when these same outlets continually steal stories from us and claim them as their own.

Reporters in mainstream today, especially the local outlets, seemingly don’t know the first thing about ethics or care really. They refuse to do the in-depth hard work necessary to get at the story instead opting to scrape content off of independents like us.

That stops now.

On Monday I reported an exclusive story about the lawsuit involving Mayor Greg Fischer, and Simmons College President and St. Stephens Pastor, Kevin Cosby.

No one had a copy of the suit except us, the plaintiff, and his attorney. We obtained permission for this exclusive the old-fashioned way. We earned the right.

I worked for months proving myself to be trustworthy and in July 2013 reported details of the project referenced in the suit when no one else would because of political pressure.

Because I have been actively involved in reporting the problems in the West End it was only fitting that I was given this fantastic opportunity.

Imagine my surprise when after my story was released, complete with quotes that could come only from the suit itself, on Tuesday morning WDRB’s Jason Riley had released a story that was almost identical to mine.

It isn’t the  first time this has happened.

When former Mayor Jerry Abramson got caught describing the problems in Louisville as being because Downtown Louisville was becoming “poorer, blacker, and older,” I was the exclusive source and mainstream local news did not give credit there either. I even supplied the original sound clip of him making the statement.

Of course that story also went National with local news outlets gaining the notoriety and the revenue accordingly.

Plagiarism?

View the stories of the Fischer lawsuit side by side, WDRB here and LP here. Make up your own mind, assuming WDRB hasn’t pulled it, or altered it before you get there.

There was no way WDRB reporter, and former Courier reporter (strange coincidence eh?), Jason Riley had a copy of the complaint by that time. If it’s in your possession, why not post the copy as is usual and customary? If they had it they would have produced it online, or shown a receipt for the costs of obtaining it through Dave Nicholson’s Court Clerk.

Riley wasn’t alone, on Tuesday Courier Journal reporter Mark Vanderhoff posted a story online as well.

On twitter he was asked what property the suit referred to. He stated: Nobody is saying much of anything, so no, I haven’t heard which parcel of land.

Which of course is questionable as well.

Neither gave any credit to myself or Louisville Politics as the original source or offered compensation accordingly.

In fact they didn’t even give a courtesy call to ask permission, permission that we have gladly given in some cases for free to other reporters through the years.

Of course those reporters will remain nameless as many have left the Louisville market for better opportunities primarily because of asinine censorship and these types of situations they were forced into.

Most independent media outlets such as this one typically accept this practice and don’t confront the people who are rehashing, plagiarizing or basically taking credit for our work, simply because independents don’t typically have the financial resources the conglomerate media such as Gannett’s Courier Journal has.

We are subservient because we have to be.

It is time someone challenges these atrocities and I will.

We must have credibility and truth in journalism. It is far too often lost and we suffer for it.

There will be the standard argument to ‘justify’ that will involve the ‘fair use’ rules argument, rules that the local media outlets in the Courier and WDRB violated knowingly, or my favorite typical one the ‘independent verification argument.’

Of course how can they independently verify factual information that came exclusively from the lawsuit itself if they don’t have a copy of it? Or could not get a copy of it?

According to one source a reporter went to the court clerk to obtain a copy on Wednesday and was told the file was missing and had disappeared. It only took two days to ‘disappear.’ How fitting, but more importantly, how long has it been missing? When did it disappear?

I have been told it doesn’t even show up on Courtnet as of this writing. Date and time stamped below by the way.

The unnamed reporter has since received a copy for doing due diligence and attempting to ‘independently verify’ my content, although I find it borderline unethical not to be mentioned as the source of the story, I have no qualms with not being referenced by him. This time…

The others can’t claim they got an anonymous copy in the mail. Who would they get it from when it wasn’t even filed or reported until Monday afternoon? There was no time to obtain an anonymous copy in the mail by the time the stories were posted.

Did they get a free copy from the Court Clerk before it went missing? Did the clerk “loan” it out to them and that is why it couldn’t be located? Who was the clerk? Why did they violate the same rules the rest of us have to follow by not having them pay for a copy and keeping it in the court’s possession at all times? Where is the standard receipt stamped to include the case number?

If any of these scenarios are true, why is Nicholson’s office allowed to show favoritism by not even charging for copies as we would be? Worse yet loaning it out for political purposes?

Is WDRB and the Courier willing to go on record stating any of these scenarios occurred?

I doubt it because quite frankly I don’t believe any of it did happen that way.

The only source would be my story. And that is a problem.

It has happened one too many times to independent media outlets such as Louisville Politics. Myself and countless others have put up with this for far too long.

The Fischer lawsuit, as others before it that I have led on, has now gone National with USA Today, a Gannett paper of course, which increases their readership and their advertising revenue accordingly.

In short local media outlets are now taking the scant amount of money, that independent outlets like this one rely on to do our investigations and bring the news to you, out of our pockets. It simply is unacceptable.

I owe it to Louisville Politics advertisers to insure I attempt to reach every available person in our market. I do that with original stories, investigations, conjecture, and opinion.

I owe it to you our readers, who demand the hard-hitting pieces you have come to expect from myself and Louisville Politics, to protect the integrity of LP and hold these media outlets accountable to the same standards they hold us to.

You deserve it and so do I.

The lawsuit is being written now.

I simply cannot and will not ignore any longer what I consider to be the blatant theft of my, or LP’s,  “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions,” to be represented as someone else’s original work for someone else’s financial benefit.

You folks deserved to know.

Ed Springston – Owner Louisville Politics