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Friday, March 5, 2010

Have They No Shame — or Reporters?

Posted By on 03.05.10 at 06:49 PM

NBC's local Web site is earning a reputation for publishing all the news that's fit to lift. I've written about this once already — last August, when nbcchicago.com came across an exclusive story in the SouthtownStar that it posted under one of its own bylines, doing nothing much to change the story beyond introducing a few mistakes that the SouthtownStar reporter, Lauren Fitzpatrick, got blamed for when the family she'd written about read the story on the NBC site.

From time to time since then, Fitzpatrick has been kind enough to point it out to me when she's spotted NBC up to the same trick.

But this time, it's not Fitzpatrick with the heads up. Someone passed along a tweet from Tribune staffer Kevin Pang.

The Tribune broke a story Thursday about a Lake Forest College alum, Grace Groner, who lived humbly but when she died left her alma mater $7 million. "Secret millionaire donates fortune to Lake Forest College," was the headline to the story by John Keilman.

Nbcchicago.com then posted its version. It was headlined, " Angel Donates a Fortune to Lake Forest College /
Dubbed as the 'secret millionaire,' a Lake Forest woman helps students achieve their dreams." The dubber, of course, was the Tribune headline, which was something NBC did not explain.

From nbcchicago.com the story passed to msnbc.msn.com, which ran it under the head, "Secret millionaire gives fortune to alma mater." As Pang pointed out, this was close to being identical to the Tribune headline. He noted that the quotes NBC used were from the Tribune too. If you read the NBC version very carefully, you'll spot a backhanded admission that this is so.

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