A stringer for AOL's Patch site in Palo Alto got caught poaching a business report from the website VentureBeat. The Palo Alto Patch acknowledged what had happened in an apology to readers.
Patch sites in West Hollywood and New Rochelle, New York have run into problems with stolen content as well, as FishbowlLA has reported.
The Patch network is largely decentralized, with individual editors running city sites under a regional editor. The model calls for the local editors (some of whom having journalism training, some of whom don't) to hire stringers (some of whom have journalism training, some of whom don't) to help produce content and keep the web pages filled. It's a system that invites people to cut corners.
As I just argued in the post below, Patch sites should not be graded on a curve - no excuses for plagiarism, no pats on the back for doing what they promised to do. But it only takes a few rotten apples to spoil the barrel. So AOL better get its shit together - it owes it to the Patch writers and editors who are doing a good job.
(found via FishbowlLA)