HARTFORD (CN) - A family-owned suburban newspaper claims the Hartford Courant plagiarized at least 11 of its news stories in the past 3 months. The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, one of the country's last surviving afternoon newspapers, says the Courant misattributed the stories as its own work in its printed editions.
The Courant is a Tribune paper that prides itself as being the nation's oldest continuously published newspaper. The Superior Court complaint claims that the Courant defended its "aggregation" policy after the Journal Inquirer reported in a front-page story in August that the Courant was republishing stories from regional newspapers without attribution.
On Sept. 4, Courant publisher and CEO Richard Graziano acknowledged that the Courant had plagiarized its competitors, including the Journal Inquirer. The apology appeared on the opinion page. "We are taking corrective action to prevent it from happening again," Graziano wrote.
But the Journal Inquirer says the open letter failed to address the full extent of the improprieties and "is part of a pattern of improper competition exhibited by the defendant." It adds that the theft of each of the story is a violation of copyright.
The Journal Inquirer also accuses the Courant of unfair trade practices.
Like most newspapers, the Courant has cut its reporting staff to reduce costs, "particularly staff members assigned to local stories," the complaint states. "This has occurred while the plaintiff has maintained its local reporting staff."
The complaint adds, "the defendant's pirating of plaintiff's local news stories substantially diminishes plaintiff's ability to compete. ... (T)he conduct of defendant offended public policy; was immoral, oppressive, unethical, and unscrupulous."
A spokeswoman for the Hartford Courant declined comment on the lawsuit late Thursday evening after promising earlier in the day that a comment would be forthcoming.
The Journal Inquirer, a six-day-a-week publication that covers 17 towns in north central Connecticut, is represented by Richard Weinstein with Weinstein and Wisser.