Courant punishes six for blatant plagiarism, including top two editors, Levine and Hazell for permitting wholesale stealing of stories from small competitors

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, 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.

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17 Comments on "Courant punishes six for blatant plagiarism, including top two editors, Levine and Hazell for permitting wholesale stealing of stories from small competitors"

  1. This, and the Shelly Sindland story sure make the Courant and Fox 61 look bad, really bad. How much longer will the ship list before it sinks?

    • Fisherman – It’s not called ‘listing’ when your ship rolls over on land. The nautical term for that is ‘aggregating,’ a perfectly acceptable term on most college campuses during term paper time. You just need to use better foot-in-the-mouth-notes. BTW, has a special aggregator abuser fund been established? I hear there is talk of setting up a website shelter for typepad-ians.

  2. Colon McEnroe | September 3, 2009 at 9:11 pm |

    Boy, DICK Graziano is doing a hell of a job over there at Fox 61 and The Courant. First, getting caught with one of his subordinates in Farmington, then, letting her drive drunk, AGAIN! Then, the case with Shelley, now, the plagarism and this lame A S S excuse! As publisher, isn’t he ultimately responsible for what is published? SO, when is he getting his pink slip? I would say he is LONG overdue.

    • Kevin Boudreau | September 3, 2009 at 10:39 pm |

      The name of the former WTIC radio host and Courant columnist is Colin McEnroe — not Colon. I don’t know if you were trying to be funny or if you are really Mr. McEnroe, but you make a very valid point of about the ethical lapses. I’ve been told Colin has a new afternoon radio show on our local NPR affiliate 90.5 FM. Might want to check it out if you were really a big fan.

      • Do not check out McEnroe on WNPR. It’s prostitution of the publicly owned and publicly supported WNPR. This station will do anything for money. It’s turned into the proverbial money pit.

  3. John Porriello | September 3, 2009 at 10:04 pm |

    Mr. Graziano,
    I would like a credit/refund of 50% of my subscription price over the period of time that these ethical lapses have taken place. Since you have my contact information as a subscriber, feel free to call or write me with the amount of the credit.

    By the way, Porriello is not a common name like Smith, Jones or Gombossy, so my account will be easy to find.

    Thank you,

    John Porriello

  4. John Shulansky | September 3, 2009 at 10:20 pm |

    The Courant used to be a beacon of integrity and quality – something you could rely on to inform and provoke every morning. Now, it is a sad example of the battle for money that corrupts core professional values and ethics. Unfortunately, the management and a small minority of journalists now almost irretrievably tarnish the many high quality journalists that remain try to do their job proudly and with dignity every day.

  5. I never had a problem with Rick Green before – but after being called out on this issue and then giving a totally smug response about how it doesnt matter, I have now lost a lot of respect for him.

    • It’s fine if you have a problem with me Bob. But where do you I say that it doesn’t matter? I said that petty routine stealing of stories has been going on for as long as I’ve been here, which is 23 years. Ask any local reporter who has been on the beat. It’s a fact of life and I eventually became used to it. But I also said the the blatant rip-off that the Courant engaged in for about one month this summer was wrong. There’s a difference.

      • That Rick Green would admit to 23 years of thievery taking place knowingly speaks volumes about his level of ethics. I guess 23 years of bank theft, 23 years of bribery, 23 years of lying is acceptable as well. And what did you say your “beat” was? The CT department of corruptions?

        • No, what RIck was saying (based on what he’s written on his blog) is that reporters at other news operations have lifted information from the Courant for years and years and reporters there just get used to it. (Especially TV, where they even have the expression “rip and read.”)

  6. When is the Chicago Tribune going to wake up and see that Richard Graziano is a DISGRACE to their company???? They need to open their eyes and see that this MORON plus Levine and Hazell have ruined the good reputation that the Hartford Courant ONCE had as the #1 newspaper in the State of CT!!!!

  7. What are the names of the other four people and what type of “punishment” are we talking about here?

  8. This whole story is what happens when you put an unseasoned tv person in charge. This is a total pantload and Graziano should be replaced immediately. It’s a crime. Period.

  9. With the elimination of so many reporters no wonder the remaining staff at the courant has plagiarized other local papers

  10. Go gettem George!!!

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