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.
It has come to my attention that the editor of New Rochelle Patch, Allison Esposito, misled us when questioned about the use of the mugshot photos in her story of Sept 24 regarding the stabbing death on North Avenue: http://newrochelle.patch.com/articles/man-24-stabbed-to-death-on-north-a…
The image she posted was, in fact, a download of the composite image you made from the police mug shots. 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.
I am cc’ing Bill Densmore on this email, since we sent him our official response to your original charges. I need to point out that when this issue first arose, we conducted an internal investigation in good faith and were satisfied with the answers we got. The Regional Editor who wrote the response, Katie O’Connor, should not be blamed for the misinformation she received.
In every community where we launch a Patch, we make it a point to be a positive part of the ecosystem of media that exists there, and we not only abide by a sense of fair play but wholeheartedly welcome collaboration with other outlets. So it is especially distressing to me that the New Rochelle Patch has gotten off on this wrong foot. Please accept my personal apologies. I hope we can find ways for our sites to work together in the future.