When word came that AOL Patch was preparing to launch a New Rochelle edition, Talk of the Sound welcomed them in the hope that they would bring new resources to covering New Rochelle and with some fear that the North End clique that runs New Rochelle would seek to turn it into a propaganda outlet.
Given the nature of New Rochelle, I expect that the clique that runs New Rochelle will try to turn it into another "cheerleading" propaganda platform. Hopefully, the editors at Patch.com will not allow that to happen. In either case, more media coverage of New Rochelle is always good so I, for one welcome them.
The debut has hardly been auspicious. The first problem is that the woman hired to run the local version of AOL Patch, Allison Esposito is a democratic political operative with close ties to Amy Paulin and Democrats in the Democratic-Controlled New York State Assembly where she worked as a Communications Director. She left there to work on Amy Paulin's re-election campaign and later become Amy's PR person where she worked until a few weeks ago before joining AOL Patch.
The result? Surprise! The site is basically a public relations platform for Noam Bramson and the Board of Education. In the first week we have a "column" from Mayor Bramson, a "Q&A" with Bramson, a few puff pieces on New Rochelle schools, quotes from Board of Education President Sara Richmond, and more from Noam Bramson. Even a story on political conventions in White Plains features a campaign photo from Amy Paulin's friend Jim Maisano. In other words, AOL Patch is a platform to advance a "City Hall" agenda. There is one "negative" article but the article contains more Bramson spin -- his only public statements on the murder of Kevin Williams.
More disturbing is the decision of AOL Patch to openly plagiarize from Talk of the Sound in their first week of operation.
As readers know, we like to publish a photo across the full column of most stories. In this case, I obtained the three mug shots from NRPD and then used Adobe Photoshop to make a single image containing all three mug shots, cropped, along with a caption indicating the names of each suspect. As is plain from looking at the image file on AOL Patch, Ms. Esposito lifted that image from Talk of the Sound, chopped off the caption with the names and presented it as her own work. Mug shots are public records and cannot be copyrighted but creating a new image out those same public records does create a unique image that is covered under copyright. So, whether you call it a copyright violation or plagiarism, it is appropriating someone else's work and passing it off as your own. A look at some of the other stories on the site suggests that Ms. Esposito strongly suggests that she is not doing much original reporting but sitting at a computer, sending out emails to get quotes and using material from other online sources (Talk of the Sound, Journal News, etc.) to write quasi-summaries.
Talk of the Sound has no problem co-operating with other media outlets. We have offered our articles, photos and videos to the Journal News, Channel 12 News, Westchester Herald, Sound and Town, WNBC-TV 4, WCBS-TV 2, and others. All we ask is that they ask for permission and give attribution to Talk of the Sound. Ms. Esposito did not ask nor did she give attribution -- not a great way to introduce yourself to the media community in New Rochelle.
Below is my email to AOL Patch asking them to remove the image and ask permission next time.
Having been welcoming to you and AOL Patch coming into New Rochelle, I was more than a bit irritated to find you lifting material from site without attribution. As far as I am concerned, you have managed to make an unwelcome interloper in New Rochelle within less than a week.
AOL Patch Debuts New Rochelle Operation by Plagiarizing From Talk of the Sound
Looking at the first week of operation I see a site that, as I feared, is little more than a platform for City Hall and the Board of Education to publish their propaganda unfiltered but under the patina of a supposedly neutral third party. If you want to turn New Rochelle Patch into the New Rochelle Pep Squad that is entirely up to you but I would appreciate your not cribbing from my site to make use of material gathered through my own effort in reporting out stories using sources I have cultivated over many years.
Please remove the mug shot image file you took from my site without permission immediately.
In the future, if you wish to make use of my content please show me the courtesy of asking permission.
New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound
cc. Katie Ryan O'Connor