Tulsa World, it seems to us, routinely publishes company-submitted press release content as its own, original content.
In our opinion, Tulsa World not only fails to fact-check, proofread or verify the accuracy of the press release content it publishes, its staff continues to reprint the same false and deceptive statements even after they have been provided with proof of their inaccuracy.
In the opinion of UnhappyFranchisee.Com, Tulsa World just doesn’t seem to care about journalistic ethics nor providing its reader with accurate information.
We’re not sure whether Tulsa World and its business editor, John Stancavage, are intentionally deceptive, exceedingly lazy, or both.
Tulsa World: Perpetuating the Beautiful Brands Success Myth Since 2003
In a November 25, 2012 column supposedly written by World Staff Writer Laurie Winslow, Tulsa World credited Beautiful Brands International with developing and successfully launching a list of “worldwide, franchised brands” that included Camille’s Sidewalk Café, Rex’s Chicken, Ludger’s Bavarian Cakery, Roxberry Juice Co., Smallcakes A Cupcakery, MyCamille’s and Hard Knox Pizzeria.
On December 12, 2012, UnhappyFranchisee.Com wrote to both writer Laurie Winslow and Tulsa World Business Editor John Stancavage to inform them that these are in no way “worldwide, franchised brands.”
In fact, Ludger’s Bavarian Cakery and Hard Knox Pizzeria are single-unit shops with no franchises.
Rex’s Chicken has 2 locations.
Roxberry Juice Co. and Smallcakes A Cupcakery each have 8 domestic locations.
MyCamille’s is not even a business; It appears to be the name of the Camille’s Café franchisee intranet.
And Camille’s Sidewalk Café, long touted as a success story by Tulsa World, is down to 32 domestic locations… having closed more than 70 franchises in recent years.
(In 2003, Tulsa World stated that BBI’s founders are “focused on opening more than 600 [Camille’s] franchises coast to coast by the end of 2004” and that they “have 135 franchises in different stages of development.” As far as we can tell, the founders opened no more than about 106 Camille’s franchises and most of them have failed.)
Despite this correction, on December 16, 2012, Tulsa World again published a BBI press release as original content, including BBI’s list of “worldwide, franchised brands” that included Camille’s Sidewalk Café, Rex’s Chicken, Ludger’s Bavarian Cakery, Roxberry Juice Co., Smallcakes A Cupcakery, MyCamille’s and Hard Knox Pizzeria.
This time they added a new “worldwide, franchised brand” to the list: NYPD Pizzeria.
Tulsa World failed to mention that NYPD Pizzeria is not worldwide (it does not have a single international location), was founded by a convicted con-artist now serving time in Federal prison, or that the NYPD Pizzeria has closed 60% of its locations in recent years.
Tulsa World: intentionally deceptive, exceedingly lazy, or both?
The Case for “Intentionally Deceptive”
On November 18, 2012, staff writer Laurie Winslow wrote the headline “BBI to franchise coffee and tea concept at Camille’s.”
Ms. Winslow seemed to be bending over backward to give the impression that BBI is now franchising the international Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf concept.
The truth is that a single, local Camille’s location is brewing Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf coffee (through a Keurig system, according to one source) and maybe retailing a few Coffee Bean branded products as a test.
BBI is clearly not “franchising” the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf “concept” as Ms. Winslow states. Could such an obvious deception not be intentional?
The Case for “Exceedingly Lazy”
Tulsa World, it seems, even plagiarizes typographical errors.
In its December 16, 2012 “FYI Business” section under the headline “FreshBerry expands in Middle East, Venezuela,” Tulsa World staff supposedly wrote “Rutkauskas said he hopes to continue the incredible growth of the FreshBerry brand with eight more stores openings…” [sic Emphasis ours]
16 days earlier, on November 30, 2012, QSR magazine published the same text in its story: “Rutkauskas said he hopes to continue the incredible growth of the FreshBerry brand with eight more stores openings…” [sic Emphasis ours]
Even the typo “eight more stores openings” was apparently plagiarized from a BBI press release without attribution.
So not only does it appear that Tulsa World is too lazy to do its own writing, but it’s too lazy to proofread as well.
Should Tulsa World Fire Laurie Winslow? John Stancavage?
On July 12, 2011, The Kansas City (Mo.) Star fired its longtime metro columnist, Steve Penn, for doing what it appears Tulsa World’s Laurie Winslow is doing on a regular basis: publishing press releases verbatim in a bylined column.
According to Allan Wolper, a professor of journalism at Rutgers University, “last July, Penn fired back, filing his suit against the Star and corporate owner, McClatchy Newspapers, Inc., alleging his editors knew all about his pilfering and that plagiarizing press releases was common practice at the paper.”
The Kansas City (Mo.) Star adamantly denies Penn’s claim. Such an admission would damage the reputation and call into question the integrity of the newspaper.
In a recent article entitled Ethics Corner: The News Hole Is No Place For PR Copy, Professor Wolper wrote:
Lifting press releases verbatim and publishing them without attribution is a sin against readers. It is a violation of the public trust that media love to talk about. It gives the impression that the paper is not an independent voice. It calls into question every other story in the paper.
It appears undeniable that Tulsa World writers and editors are publishing the press releases of BBI (Beautiful Brands International) verbatim. If you Google a quote or key phrase from the stories linked to above, you will likely see up to a dozen websites (like Yahoo News, QSR, Fast Casual) that have published the same story, using the same text, same executive quotes, same unverified sales figures, etc. as Tulsa World.
The question is: Does Tulsa World and parent World Publishing, Inc. care that its publication is being used as a press release mill and propaganda pipeline by questionable companies, or is that practice in accordance with the World Publishing Code of Ethics?
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