This was bound to happen: AOL Patch, the series of hyper-local news sites in Los Angeles and across the land, has been caught ripping off content. If that's not bad enough, the regional editor didn't apologize to the pilfered author directly, instead asking for help fleshing out the story. The nerve.
The first paragraph of a personal blog's obituary for John Chase, the West Hollywood urban designer, was published on the West Hollywood Patch without attribution this summer (it has since been taken down).
According to author Alissa Walker, here's now Patch editor Nancy C. Rodriguez responded, via email.
"My calendar editor wrote the obit for me. I'll have him update the obit ... Would you mind sending me some information about John Chase...his significant role to West Hollywood, his character and any contributions to the city? It would be helpful information for our calendar editor."
Gimme, gimme, gimme. It's bizarre to watch multimillion-dollar corporations -- Patch is believed to be funded to the tune of $50 million, and it pays its bloggers $50 to $100 per post -- with their hands out.
All that cash and someone can't pick up a phone and do some original reporting?
The episode, Walker says, inspired Patch to take a look at its guidelines. You know, stuff like don't rip off other people's blogs and make some calls once in a while. Really? This wasn't part of the plan from the git-go?
Walker says the original writer was fired. And an apology eventually went up:
No wonder they call it "poach."
Read Tibby Rothman's piece about Patch's invasion of L.A. here.
Note: The piece has been corrected to take out the name of someone uninvolved in the story and replace it with Walker's We regret the error.