local weekly reporter plagiarizes JI stories, some in full | Business

The editor of two weekly newspapers, the Windsor Journal and the Windsor Locks Journal, apologized “wholeheartedly” for the publication of stories by a young freelance writer who plagiarized substantial amounts of material previously published in the Journal Inquirer.

“We were shocked and devastated, and we apologize to JI, our readers and have terminated the independent contractual relationship with the journalist who committed this inexcusable atrocity,” wrote John Karas, editor of both. weekly, in a note to readers. which was to be published in the Friday edition of the newspapers.

Karas provided the note to the Journal Inquirer on Friday morning by email.

“Most hurtful is the erosion of the trust we have as a collaborative information-gathering organization,” he continued in a statement due to be published in his newspapers this week. “As editor-in-chief, we hope that the journalist will be a real journalist and submit original – or fully attributed – news articles. This basic trust has been broken and we must rebuild our relationship not only with our colleagues but with you, the reader. And we promise that will not happen in the future under our watch. “

After a JI reporter noticed that elements of one of his stories were repeated verbatim in an October 29 Windsor Locks Journal article, JI editor-in-chief Jim Konrad contacted Karas, who said agreed to provide Journal Inquirer with the PDF archive of articles for 2020 and 2021. Konrad’s research identified a total of 15 cases from October 2020 to last week in which entire Journal Inquirer stories were published in weekly newspapers – many of them verbatim.

All of the stories involved appeared under the signature of Anthony Zepperi, whose resume indicates he is a resident of Windsor and graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Connecticut in May 2020.

Zepperi’s first signing in the Windsor Locks Journal appears to be July 24, 2020. His first signing in the Windsor Journal was August 7, 2020. The first case of plagiarism appears to be in a story in early October 2020, including large sections were taken verbatim in the Windsor Journal.

Story topics included the Haunted Graveyard Project and the purchase of oxygen masks for dogs in Windsor, as well as the Main Street Development and Polling Worker Appreciation Day at Windsor Locks.

The most recent articles were published in the Windsor Locks Journal in October of this year. The latest, relating to the proposed All Sports complex, was published on the Journal Inquirer website on October 20 and in its print edition on October 21. Zepperi’s story was in the October 29 issue of the Windsor Locks Journal.

Reached by phone on Friday, Zepperi said: “Some of the stories I forgot to attribute to the Inquirer.”

When asked if he attributed any stories to JI, he replied, “I don’t think I ever did.”

In a subsequent phone conversation, Zepperi said, “I tried to use the stories for inspiration. So I was talking to the same people and getting different quotes.

“I sent an email to some of the sources,” he continued. “I called some of them to get quotes from them. “

The stories involved include seemingly original quotes and passages, often at or near the end of the stories, after the contents of the MOC stories have been printed.

In his apologies, Karas answered the question, “Why didn’t anyone catch him sooner?” “

“We’ve been racking our brains ever since we heard about it, and the only answer we can find is that the relationship every newspaper has with its editors is based on trust – no one expects something like that. “, he wrote. “It happened to other news outlets, and each time the response was that no one could even imagine that a journalist who wanted a career in the news industry would compromise their stories in this way.”

Both weekly newspapers are published by Town News Media LLC. George T. Logan is the “principal” and director of the company, according to online business records maintained by the secretary of the state office.

“Obviously, I feel very bad about this,” Logan said of the plagiarism when reached by phone on Friday. He said he feels particularly bad for Karas, whom he has known since he was a teenager.

“Plagiarism should be taken very seriously,” said Logan, a Manchester-based wildlife biologist, ecologist and soil scientist. “It should never happen.

“It’s theft,” he said, adding that he has also seen it happen in science.

Richard F. Hanley, associate professor of journalism at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, said plagiarism was “rampant online” for two reasons.

One of the reasons is that the shrinking press teams have made it difficult for news agencies to have “boots on the ground,” he said. The other reason, he said, is the ease of copying and pasting online.

He said the problem is particularly acute in small news agencies.

Hanley’s advice to reporters: “Always attribute information to a source and always try, whenever possible, to report original. “

For updates on Glastonbury and recent coverage of crime and courts in north-central Connecticut, follow Alex Wood on Twitter: @ AlexWoodJI1, Facebook: Alex Wood, and Instagram: @AlexWoodJI.

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