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After several weeks of silence from the Sentinel’s corporate offices about the plagiarism scandal in which the newspaper has enmeshed itself, a letter arrived yesterday from Sentinel owner Lynn Kapiloff. Its message: “[I]t is time to move on.”
I had written to Ms. Kapiloff in the hopes that the publishing company would hold its editorial staff publicly accountable for its actions (which, at latest count, amounts to publishing 81 of its 83 editorial cartoons since October 2013 with fully or partially plagiarized content).
Public accountability does not appear to be forthcoming. The employee who knew about the plagiarism for at least six months before stopping it, Brian Karem, remains editor of the Sentinel; he produced this week’s issue. In her reply, Ms. Kapiloff reduced the concerns I brought to her as “beliefs” and “opinions” that she disagreed with.
In the letter I am mailing to Ms. Kapiloff today, I write:
Let me be clear. I have not expressed to you my “beliefs” about what the Sentinel knew, nor have I made “assertions” with which you may simply disagree. I conveyed to you the fact that the Sentinel’s editor, Brian Karem, knew of the serial plagiarism occurring in his newspaper for six solid months before he did anything about it. I am not relying on any interpretation of facts or statements in relaying this information to you. I absolutely know that Mr. Karem knew of his newspaper’s plagiarism and did nothing about it for six months because I told him, face to face, on Nov. 29, 2014, that his cartoonist was stealing artwork from the Internet, and Mr. Karem chose to continue to publish plagiarized work in the Sentinel from the same contributor until at least as late as May 14, 2015. Your letter does not acknowledge this other than to obliquely dismiss it as my “opinion.”
Ms. Kapiloff wraps up her reply with: “The Sentinel is handling the situation and it is time to move on.” I disagree. This response boils down to “trust us” in a matter centering on a serious breach of public trust committed by the Sentinel. I would not have accepted “trust us” back when I was a reporter, and I sincerely doubt any Sentinel reporters would accept “trust us” from anyone, either. I do not accept it now.
Enough is enough. I call upon the management of Sentinel Newspapers to appoint a neutral third party to investigate the actions of The Montgomery County Sentinel’s editorial staff in the matter of its serial cartoon plagiarism and release a public report detailing its findings.