Menu

Home » Apologies & Retractions»

(Credit: Courant, screenshot, highlight added)

Hartfort Courant reporter Hillary Federico resigned earlier this month after the newspaper found her articles had “strong similarities” to other outlets’ work, according to an note by the Courant, which Mondo Times identifies as a daily Connecticut newspaper with a circulation of about 132,000 copies.

The Courant’sSetting the Record Straight” note on Nov. 1 explained that the newspaper spotted the two issues “during an internal, ongoing review that began after a similar issue was identified in a recent, unpublished story as it was being prepared for publication.”  The Courant added

“Our readers can be confident that The Hartford Courant takes adherence to journalistic standards very seriously.  When we discover problems we take immediate action to correct them, and strong action to prevent them from happening again. Hillary Federico has resigned from The Hartford Courant.

“We apologize for this lapse, and be assured we will always take the necessary actions to maintain your trust.”

The Courant identified the two stories as an Aug. 24 Boy Scout article and a March 16 quilt story, and Jim Romenesko posted links to the stories. iMediaEthics notes both articles are still online without any note or disclaimer about the problems found in the articles.

According to Farmington Patch, the Aug. 24 article “contained words or phrases taken from an article written by Brad Mead which was published in its entirety on Simsbury Patch.”   The Courant’s article closely mirrors the Oct. 11 Simsbury Patch post by Mead, which is categorized by Patch under its “Accomplishments” section. (The same text was posted Aug. 30 on the Simsbury Troop 175 website.)

Mead is the scoutmaster for the group in question, and in the Courant’s post, his post is sometimes word-by-word copied, sometimes re-written, and sometimes quoted from as a “press release.”  Sometimes the information is credited to Mead as comments he made, but the Patch post is never referenced. Below is an excerpt from the Courant’s article. iMediaEthics bolded content that is either verbatim or closely verbatim (i.e. “turn back” and “turned back”) from the Patch/Simsbury Troop 175 post.

“It was after midnight when the scouts, chaperones and their guides started up the side of the crater, Scoutmaster Brad Mead said. Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Carabillo, one of the group’s strongest climbers, had gotten sick the day before and was forced to turn back at 17,000 feet.

“The remaining 19 climbers persevered, working their way up the rocky ledge of the mountain for six hours in the bone-chilling 20 degree air, said Scoutmaster Brad Mead, who in 2007 scaled Kilimanjaro with the troop for the first time. Most had headaches from the lack of oxygen, he said, and all were maxing out their hear rate.

“Every hour there was a five minute break. Vomiting and diarrhea set in as the altitude created havoc on the climbers’ digestive systems. As the sun started to rise above the African scrubland and the group reached Gilman’s Point, the lowest point of the crater rim, seven climbers decided to end their journey and return back to camp, Mead said.”  …

“Summiting at Gilman’s Point were Bill Rice, Michele Weathers, Ryan Weathers, 15, Noah Campion, 16, Will Kelsey, 14, Denise Campion and Jon Epstein, 18.

You May Also Like...

FBI Not Lead Agency, Fed Grand Jury Indicts Alleged Boston Bomber for Killing MIT P.O. Sean Collier

“‘Kilimanjaro is not a technical mountain to climb but rather a journey of exploration inside yourself’ Mead said in a press release. ‘The altitude is the challenge…You breath and there is nothing there. Your heart is beating at 160 beats per minute for hours as you search for the strength to keep climbing.

Quinnipiac University’s “independent student newspaper” the Quad News issued a Nov. 6 statement in “support” of Federico, a “former staff member.”  While noting the newspaper “does not, and never will, condone any acts of plagiarism,” Quad News wrote that “we do support Federico and will do what we can to help her regain the integrity she showed during her term as managing editor.”

iMediaEthics has written about plagiarism and attribution at the Courant and other Connecticut newspapers previously. In November of last year, the Courant apologized to fellow Connecticut newspaper the Journal Inquirer as part of a settlement to the Inquirer‘s lawsuit originating in 2009.  In 2009, the Courant admitted it had plagiarized and apologized, but throughout the lawsuit the Courant denied the Inquirer’s accusations of copyright infringement and said it was “aggregating.” In 2009, the Society of Professional Journalists’ called out the Courant for having “failed to carry the credit” to original sources in the stories in question.

In January, the Fairfield Minuteman apologized after learning that one of its Jan. 5 sports stories plagiarized from the Connecticut Post and Fairfield Citizen.  In October 2011, a Middletown Press reporter was fired for plagiarizing from Middletown Patch. 

iMediaEthics has written to the Courant asking when the investigation into Federico’s work began, what the review included, if the review found anything beyond “similarities,” why the two articles in question don’t carry notes disclosing the “strong similarities,” and if the Courant will change any practices because of this incident. We’ll update with any response.

Hat Tip: Jim Romenesko

UPDATE: 11/12/2012 3:21 PM EST: Jennifer T. Humes from the Courant‘s Communications told iMediaEthics that “We have no further comment regarding the situation that the statement that we published in the paper- which I have included below.”  That statement reads:

“Two stories by Hillary Federico that appeared in the Hartford Courant contained words or phrases that bear strong similarities to work that appeared in other publications. The similarities were found during an internal, ongoing review that began after a similar issue was identified in a recent, unpublished story as it was being prepared for publication.

“One of the published stories, about a local Boy Scout troop traveling to Mt. Kilimanjaro, appeared on page B6 August 24. The other was a profile of two quilters that appeared on page B2  March 16.

“Our readers can be confident that The Hartford Courant takes adherence to journalistic standards very seriously.  When we discover problems we take immediate action to correct them, and strong action to prevent them from happening again. Hillary Federico has resigned from The Hartford Courant.

“We apologize for this lapse, and be assured we will always take the necessary actions to maintain your trust.”

Submit a tip / Report a problem

Hartford Courant Reporter Resigns, Newspaper Apologizes after ‘Similarities’ to Other Outlets’ Work

Share this article:

Comments Terms and Conditions

  • We reserve the right to edit/delete comments which harass, libel, use coarse language and profanity.
  • We moderate comments especially when there is conflict or negativity among commenters.
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *