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Patch Editor-in-Chief Brian Farnham on Perceived Lack of Oversight, Plagiarism Issues

Brian Farnham, editor-in-chief of Patch, Aol’s network of hyperlocal news sites, spoke with Ryan Derousseau for an installment of So What Do You Do for WebNewser parent mediabistro.com.

On allegations that there is a lack of editorial oversight at Patch:

Yeah, you know I think that is kind of an unfortunate stereotype really of our people. We now have a couple of hundred editors. The average for the editors is nine years of journalism experience. So it’s not as if everyone is right out of school. I think those things have been overstated a bit. Yes, there has been this and that incident, but not as many as I think some of the echoing in the blogosphere makes it seem like. Every newspaper or media company that deals with journalism and human beings deals with mistakes at some point. The real thing is how quickly you respond to those and correct them and how transparent you are about them. So that’s what we are really concentrating on.

On Patch’s policy on plagiarism:

We put a number of rules in place before. We definitely had a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism. Everyone knows what not to do. I think the incidents you are referring to, one was actually a freelancer — it wasn’t a full-time editor. And you know, the other was an unfortunate mistake. It was really kind of, I’ll say understandable, just because of the way sometimes (things) happen online where you will have a photo that in this particular instance was actually a public-domain photo. It was a police mug shot, and, you know, it was definitely the wrong thing to do to take it. It shouldn’t have happened, but, you know, I think there is a lot of gray area online, I’m not saying that this is an excuse, it’s something you have to navigate. But these things, every media company in the world, again, deals with these mistakes, and it’s something you see from time to time. And the best you can do is use them as lessons, and remind people what the standards are, and move on.

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