Et tu, WSJ?

At about the same time as the Hartford Courant was slammed with a plagiarism suit for allegedly stealing at least 11 articles from a family-owned local Connecticut paper last month, the Wall Street Journal decided to try its own hand at journalistic thievery. According to a Dec. 3 Huffington Post article, a freelance writer wrote an online “New Global Indian” column called “Homeward Bound” on Nov. 10 that the Journal later discovered contained multiple fake quotations.

A notice now appears on the Journal Web site in place of the column:

“A Nov. 10 “New Global Indian” online column by New York City freelance writer Mona Sarika has been found to contain information that was plagiarized from several publications, including the Washington Post, Little India, India Today and San Francisco magazine. In the column, “Homeward Bound,” about H-1B visa holders returning to India, Ms. Sarika also re-used direct quotes from other publications, without attribution, and changed the original speakers’ names to individuals who appear to be fabricated. The column is the only work by Ms. Sarika to be published by the Journal, and it has been removed from the Journal’s Web sites.”

In the past year, Rupert Murdoch has announced intentions to put his newspaper Web sites, including the Journal, behind a pay wall, looked to strike a deal with Microsoft for exclusive rights to his online content and decided to create a new NYC bureau on a $15 million budget to compete with the New York Times.

So far, none of the papers with the original information has sued the Journal, but maybe they that’s because they don’t have enough extra money to hire legal counsel. Or maybe they are all too intimidated by Murdoch’s latest monetary ventures to attempt legal action.

Or maybe they’re just letting Murdoch run his course: if he succeeds in getting the newspaper industry to follow his various pay-for-content models, at least his publications won’t be able to steal content for free.

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