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Published: Friday, 3/30/2001

Paper admits lifting stories from Blade

MONROE - The Monroe Publishing Co., publisher of the Monroe (Mich.) Evening News, has apologized to The Blade and demoted the former head writer for its free-circulation weekly Bedford Now for plagiarizing six articles in the weekly's Feb. 16 and Feb. 23 editions.

In a story to be published in today's edition of the Monroe Evening News, Lonnie Peppler-Moyer, the newspaper's publisher and president, said the company confirmed complaints by The Blade that “there were several instances of Bedford Now publishing, verbatim and without attribution, Toledo news reports and information on I-73 that were first published in The Blade.”

As a result, the company demoted Bedford Now head writer Paul A. Nucci to a half-time sports writing position while he searches for other employment.

“Theft of news reports violates the most fundamental tenet of journalism,” said John Robinson Block, co-publisher and editor-in-chief of The Blade. “Unfortunately this kind of regrettable conduct is inevitable when you hold yourself out as a news organization and don't devote the resources to do the job.”

Today's edition of Bedford Now, which began publishing in early February, carries an open apology to The Blade and to Bedford Now's readers “for this mistake in judgment and violation of ethics.”

The letter, signed by Mr. Nucci and Mrs. Peppler-Moyer, goes on to “apologize to the Toledo Blade for this infringement of their copyrighted material and to our readers for this breach of trust between us.”

The Blade is published by Block Communications, Inc., of Toledo, and covers northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. Bedford Township, Toledo's largest suburb, is a key component of The Blade's core circulation area, and the newspaper has a Monroe bureau, whose coverage includes Bedford.

“The Blade devotes considerable time, effort, and resources to covering southern Michigan and providing Bedford residents with timely news and information,” said Ron Royhab, The Blade's executive editor. “The law clearly prohibits Monroe Publishing Co. from taking our news reports and using them in its free weekly publication.”

Fritz Byers, The Blade's legal counsel, first called the matter to the attention of Mrs. Peppler-Moyer in a March 8 letter, in which Mr. Byers referred to the specific Bedford Now stories as “the most blatant newspaper copyright infringement I have ever seen.”

Yesterday Mr. Byers said he was pleased with Monroe Publishing's response in dealing with the matter.

In addition to the apology, Monroe Publishing agreed to other settlement terms with The Blade to end the matter. The parties did not disclose specifics of those terms.

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