Chicago.com, A Site With Same Owner As Sun-Times And Reader, Plagiarizes Wildly
By Rachel Cromidas in News on Mar 4, 2016 7:32PM
The website, which bills itself as a destination for those looking for stuff to do in the city, is owned by Wrapports, the local media company that owns the Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader, among other news outlets—and has been pretty thoroughly derided for its bad website, bad content and bad business strategy. We are loyal Reader and Sun-Times readers, but we honestly did not know Chicago.com existed until this week (The Chicago Reader has no editorial input in Chicago.com).
The site's existence came up with the news that Michael Ferro was taking the reins at Tribune Publishing, which owns the Los Angeles Times as well as the Chicago Tribune. It was announced at the same time that Tribune has acquired LA.com in the hopes of creating a website "to celebrate Los Angeles and extend the reach of the Los Angeles Times brand." Ferro, as the Chairman of Wrapports, was the brains behind Chicago.com, whose goal, Chicago Magazine reports, was become the "to go-to Chicago commerce and content site." (Ferro just transferred his ownership of Wrapports to a charity trust to avoid the conflict of owning competing media brands in Chicago.)
Browsing Chicago.com for the first time, we noticed some things. First, its interface is way nicer than the Sun-Times', with a reasonable and not-entirely-overwhelming number of ads. Second, a seemingly endless number of its internal links redirect to an error page. And third, some of its articles sounded way more than just coincidentally familiar. And one in particular, "16 Of Our Favorite Events In Chicago This Weekend," was, quite literally, a story we originally wrote and published.
The story has since been deleted from Chicago.com, but here's a side-by-side comparison and a cached version of how it used to appear on Chicago.com.
We Tweeted about the problem Friday morning and emailed the domain controller Vujadin Milinovich, whose LinkedIn page says he is the Chicago Sun-Times' operations manager. He responded that Chicago.com had removed the article from the site.
Julian Posada, Wrapports' EVP of marketing and strategy, told Chicagoist in an email Friday afternoon that "technical issues" were involved. "We have removed the content you reference below from our site. We immediately looked into this matter and found technical issues which we are addressing," he wrote.
But as other local journalists discovered after reviewing the website Friday, we weren't the only site to find our writing copied and pasted directly to Chicago.com: