After pretending for weeks that there were no unusual ethics issues in stealing hundreds of stories from small competitors, The Courant announced today that six employees were being punished.
Richard Graziano, the publisher of both The Courant and its sister station Fox 61, told a stunned editorial staff at an impromtu meeting in the what is left of the newsroom at 285 Broad St., that six employees would be disciplined.
Graziano, who has been under attack himself for his ethical lapses, at first refused to tell his staff who would be punished and what the punishment would be.
However, tough Courant reporters peppered him and Jeffrey Levine, the former marketing “guru” and now editor of The Courant and Fox 61, and management finally admitted that Levine and Naedine Hazell, former features editor, now number two editor at the paper, were among the six, CtWatchdog.com has learned. Three other editors, who probably just did what Levine told them to, were apparently also punished, as well as the poor aggregator who I am sure only did what he was told.
Interestingly, Levine and Hazell are supposed to be experts on blogging and fair use of Internet material. So what made them believe that they could get away with stealing stories from others?
The worst part though is that Levine could not explain to the staff what they did, why they did it, and what was wrong and what they would do to make things right.
And unfortunately, it came at a time when a great Courant staffer passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.
This was the complete statement that was issued Thursday by The Courant:
Courant Apologizes For Plagiarism
Richard J. Graziano
Hartford Courant CEO, President & Publisher
5:31 PM EDT, September 3, 2009
The Hartford Courant is America’s oldest continuously published newspaper. We’ve been in business for 245 years. We’ve earned a reputation for integrity and we take it very seriously. Throughout our history we have served the community by highlighting wrongdoing and violations of ethics when we find them. It is only right that we focus the same light on ourselves when we are wrong.
So, it’s incumbent upon me as publisher to tell you that we failed to meet our own standards and, as we would with anyone else, we are flagging it, calling it wrong and taking action.
In short, after an extensive internal review, we have determined that over the last several weeks The Courant plagiarized the work of some of our competitors. This was not our intent, but it is in fact what happened. We are taking corrective action to prevent it from happening again. We have also disciplined the individuals involved.
There is nothing more sacred to a newspaper than its credibility. It is my responsibility to point out our ethical violations and tell you that this newspaper’s staff and I are deeply sorry. We apologize to our readers, competitors and advertisers.
The Courant wants to assure its readers and news staff that we vigorously subscribe to strict journalistic ethics and to maintaining and achieving lasting credibility. We know that there is nothing more important to a newspaper.
Richard J. Graziano
CEO, President & Publisher, Hartford Courant
Senior Vice President Tribune Broadcasting
General Manager WTIC/WTXX
So the question I have is whether Graziano has disciplined himself for his ethical lapses, or is he waiting for Tribune to figure out all the stuff he has done.
- Courant/Fox61 Editor Jeff Levine Fired, Naedine Hazell New Editor
- Courant/Fox Top Editor Levine Out Of Job According To Courant Sources
- Barbara Roessner Takes Over As Editor Of Hearst Newspapers In Ct
- CtWatchdog And Courant Resolve Wrongful Termination Suit
- AP story on Watchdog firing
- Courant Publisher Graziano and Editor Hazell have good reason not to debate the Watchdog in public