Journalistic Cribbing for Fun and Profit

The Coloradoan is reporting that The Greeley Tribune has been copying stories from rival regional newspapers only to credit them as Associated Press wire reports. In a supreme case of ink-stained irony, the Tribune’s publisher attributed the practice to the newspaper’s former editor and current online operations manager, Chris Cobler, who announced last week that he is leaving to take a position with the Poynter Institute, “a school dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and media leaders. It promotes excellence and integrity in the practice of craft and in the practical leadership of successful businesses.”

Cobler, who is well-respected among statewide journalists and recently completed a fellowship at the prestigious Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, denied the accusations:

Cobler said he never told anyone in the newsroom to copy stories and attach the AP byline, instead saying reporters and editors must have “misunderstood” how they were supposed to collect regional news.

He also denied having an agreement with the AP, calling the notion “newsroom folklore.”

Cobler agreed the practice was unethical and said it was his fault if it happened on his watch, but added repeatedly that he had not been the editor for 18 months.

The Greeley Tribune has published its own story on this controversy.