Sunday, June 10, 2012

Poughkeepsie Journal apologizes for use of Freeman material without attribution


Sometime after 8 a.m. Friday, 06-10-12, the Poughkeepsie Journal published an online story about a tuition increase at Dutchess Community College that looked suspiciously like the Freeman's report on the same issue. A close look at the two stories revealed similarities so obvious that it was clear to me our story had been rewritten by the Journal.

I immediately blew the whistle by Twitter:


Hey @PokJournal if you're going to rip off our report, how about giving credit? That DCC tuition story is thin rewrite http://ow.ly/brOFp

and sent a detailed email at around 9 a.m. to Journal Executive Editor Stuart Shinske asking him to investigate.

As the day dragged on and there was no response, we followed with a second tweet to our followers at 8:54p:

It's been about 9 hrs since we called @PokJournal on ripping off our DCC tuition story without attribution. No response ow.ly/bsHqM

and another 7:37a Saturday, again including the Journal's main Twitter address:

So far, so good. No @PokJournal ripoffs of our stories this morning. Also, still no response re our complaint Friday. ow.ly/bt4Ch

Later on Saturday morning, Stu called me and said he had not been made aware of the situation until late Friday. The tweets were not brought to his attention, he said, and he never received my email.
He assured me he took the matter seriously and would get back to me after he had had a chance to fully investigate.

He called me back late Saturday afternoon, with his findings and what I can only characterize as a profuse apology. He informed me the Journal would publish an apology on Sunday, which the Journal has done.

Stuff happens. How Stu responded once we finally connected was exemplary. Many thanks to him.

Following are the marked-up stories published by the Journal and the Freeman about the tuition increase.

THE JOURNAL STORY published on line on Friday: 
Tuition at Dutchess Community College would rise for the first time in three years under the college’s proposed 2012-13 budget.
Under the budget, tuition would rise to $3,100 per year for full-time students, a 6.9 percent hike from the current $2,900. Part-time tuition would rise to $129 per credit hour from $121. College officials say the tuition would continue to be the lowest in the state.
DCC’s $61.8 million spending plan is an increase of 2.6 percent from current $60.3 million budget.
The county’s contribution to the college would remain flat in the budget. The county Legislature is set to vote on the budget on Monday and a public hearing has been set for 7 p.m. on July 16.
Ulster County Community College has adopted a budget that calls for increasing tuition for full-time students to $4,130 per year from the current $3,990. Part-timers would pay $149 per credit hour, up from $142.
 

THE FREEMAN STORY published on line on Friday:

By PATRICIA DOXSEY
Freeman staff
pdoxsey@freemanonline.com; twitter.com/pattiatfreeman
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Tuition at Dutchess Community College would rise for the first time in three years and  the county’s contribution to the college remain flat for the fourth consecutive year under the college’s proposed 2012-13 budget.

Members of the DCC board have adopted a $61.8 million spending plan, up 2.6 percent, or $1.55 million, from college’s $60.3 million 2011-12 budget.

Members of the county Legislature’s Budget and Finance Committee on Thursday adopted a resolution that will go before the full Legislature on Monday to set a public hearing on the budget for 7 p.m. July 16.

Tuition under the plan would rise to $3,100 per year for full-time students, a 6.9 percent hike from the current $2,900.

Part-time tuition would rise to $129 per credit hour from $121.

The last time DCC tuition increased was 2008-09, when the full-time cost of attending the two-year school rose 0.9 percent.

According to budget documents provided to the Legislature by the college, even with the tuition increase, DCC  would have the lowest tuition of any college or university in the state that charges tuition.

Legislature Majority Leader Dale Borchet said he didn’t believe the “small increase” would pose a hindrance to those looking to attend DCC.

“We’re still the lowest tuition in the state,” said Borchet, R-LaGrange. “The community college does a fantastic job.”

Ulster County Community College has adopted a budget that calls for increasing tuition for full-time students to $4,130 per year from the current $3,990. Part-timers would pay $149 per credit hour, up from $142.

On Wednesday, some Ulster County lawmakers discussed increasing the county’s contribution to UCCC in order to stave off the proposed hike.

The DCC budget calls for the county to contribute $10.8 million, an amount that has remained steady since 2008.

Ulster County Community College’s  $28.2 million 2012-13 budget calls for the county to contribute $6.8 million toward the college’s operation.

1 Comments:

Blogger James David Audlin said...

I am a former editor at the Poughkeepsie Journal. I am posting this to the PJ and KDF websites.

The chances are good, in my estimation, that an editor wrote the plagiarized article, since those articles are commonly bylined "Poughkeepsie Journal".

The Poughkeepsie Journal tells us that tweets and posted comments (including mine) on the plagiarized article were deleted. By whom? A regular reporter would not have the right or power to do this sort of thing; only an editor, i.e., most likely the editor responsible for the plagiarism, possibly working in concert with the online editor. If such an editor covered up the plagiarism by erasing public comments, that is clear grounds for dismissal, as if the plagiarism weren't enough. If two editors colluded to get rid of these posts, both should be dismissed. I find it hard to believe that editors would work together to get rid of public comments on the plagiarism unless they had the nod from someone higher up.

But Executive Editor Stu Shinske does not tell us that anyone has been shown the door, which does not fill me with confidence that we are getting the whole story.

Shinske tells us that he knew of this late Friday, but that he did nothing about the situation until the following day. What was happening in the meanwhile? A meeting of the editors involved in writing the plagiarized article and deleting the public comments to decide on strategy? Was the consensus that this issue would eventually "blow over"? Certainly Shinske didn't think this was a minor issue and watched TV before going to bed!

It seems to me that the timing is clear: the Poughkeepsie Journal only apologized AFTER being extremely publicly humiliated by influential blogster Jim Romanesko; did it become clear at that point that this was NOT blowing over, and then finally the PJ admitted fault and apologized?

My hypotheses above may be wrong. But I am sadly confident that SOMETHING along these lines did take place, and I find the Poughkeepsie Journal's "explanation" of what happened entirely insufficient and the apology, therefore, hollow.

June 10, 2012 at 8:14 PM 

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