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SPJ Ethics Committee: Hartford Courant Violated Ethical Standards


For immediate release:

Kevin Z. Smith, SPJ President, (304) 367-4864, spjpresident@yahoo.com
Andy Schotz, Ethics Committee Chairman, lawngyland@aol.com


INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists’ Ethics Committee released the following statement regarding the Hartford Courant’s recent admission of and apology for using other newspapers' stories without duly attributing credit. The statement issued by the committee is as follows:

The Hartford Courant has acknowledged using stories from other Connecticut newspapers recently without giving them credit. The director of content has apologized and vowed the mistake won't be repeated.

The Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists plainly exhorts newspapers and journalists, "Never plagiarize." When a newspaper invests reporting and editing time to produce a story, that story should not be used by another outlet without permission and without informing readers who actually did the work.

Many media outlets aggregate information online, summarizing a story and then linking to the original. The Courant failed to carry the credit from its online version to its print version.

"However it happened, the Courant violated fundamental standards," said Andy Schotz, the chairman of SPJ's Ethics Committee. "This was theft."

Integrity and credibility, two of the most important values in journalism, demand that all media outlets be clear about the source of stories they did not produce. Failure to follow that guideline results in plagiarism, taking credit for someone else’s work, as it did in this case.

SPJ admonishes all media outlets to take special care so that proper attribution is given at all times – especially when working with multiple news delivery platforms. For help in making strong ethical decisions, please consult the Society’s Code of Ethics (www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp) or call SPJ’s Ethics Hotline at (317) 927-8000, ext. 208.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well- informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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