Cooks Source finally issues half-hearted apology to blogger they ripped off

Much maligned regional food mag Cooks Source has finally apologized to the blogger whose article “A Tale of Two Tarts” was ripped off for their print edition.

The furor began when writer Monica Gaudio posted an email exchange she had with Cooks Source editor Judith Griggs after the theft was brought to Gaudio’s attention. Griggs brushed off the writer’s request for token compensation and suggested the author pay the magazine for edits made to the piece. This did not go over well with the internet, who proceeded to flood the magazine’s Facebook page en masse, deluged the publication’s advertisers, and made endless jokes about the ill visited upon the world by Griggs.

Below is the statement posted on the website of Cooks Source– interestingly, every other bit of content from the site has disappeared. Is that to draw attention to their contrition, or is it because they can’t verify the sources of the images and text are legitimate? Does the magazine sound truly sorry, or is there more of a focus on how the scandal harmed them than how their actions were wrong in the first place?

We have cancelled our Facebook page on Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 6:00PM. It has since been since been hacked by unknown parties and now someone else unknown to us has control of it. Their inclusion of Cooks Source issues and photos is used without our knowledge or consent. Please know that none of the statements made by either Cooks Source or Judith Griggs were made by either our staff or her.

We do not, and never have had a Twitter page, so what is attributed as our presence or our statements have nothing to do with Cooks Source or Judith Griggs.

We also cancelled our website on the above date, as our advertisers were listed therein, and with the harassment that has taken place on Facebook, we felt was unsafe for them.

Cooks Source will not be on Facebook again at any time in the future: hacking is too prevalent and apparently too easily performed by disreputable people. The email and Facebook abuse of our advertisers is the prime example: it is hurtful to people who are innocent of this issue, and can ill-afford the abuse — either emotionally or financially. Small business owners are being bombarded with hate mail, and distasteful messages because someone downloaded their contact information on these bogus sites. These small business owners work very hard to keep their businesses going in a bad economy. We respectfully request this harassment be stopped immediately. If you or anyone knows of this abuse, you should go to the bogus Cooks Source (or other bogus pages) Facebook page, look to the left side of the page and press “Report Abuse,” or else go to How to Report Claims of Intellectual Property Infringement, The Facebook Corporate phone number are 650-543-4800, 650-853-1300 and 650-543-4811which hopefully will assist interested parties who feels these snipers who are perpetuating hate have gotten out of hand and want to report it. Interestingly, this phone number and any other contact info is not listed on the Facebook site, and has taken four people a number of days to track down.

Last month an article, “American as Apple Pie — Isn’t,” was placed in error in Cooks Source, without the approval of the writer, Monica Gaudio. We sincerely wish to apologize to her for this error, it was an oversight of a small, overworked staff. We have made a donation at her request, to her chosen institution, the Columbia School of Journalism. In addition, a donation to the Western New England Food Bank, is being made in her name. It should be noted that Monica was given a clear credit for using her article within the publication, and has been paid in the way that she has requested to be paid.

This issue has made certain changes here at Cooks Source. Starting with this month, we will now list all sources. Also we now request that all the articles and informational pieces will have been made with written consent of the writers, the book publishers and/or their agents or distributors, chefs and business owners. All submission authors and chefs and cooks will have emailed, and/or signed a release form for this material to Cooks Source and as such will have approved its final inclusion. Email submissions are considered consent, with a verbal/written follow-up. Recipes created in the Cooks Source Kitchen are owned by Cooks Source and as such approval is given for chefs and cooks in our area to use them. Artwork used is created by our staff, or is royalty-free or purchased “clip-art.”

However: Cooks Source can not vouch for all the writers we have used in the past, and in the future can only check to a certain extent. Therefore, we will no longer accept unrequested articles, nor will we work with writers or illustrators unless they can prove they are reputable people, provide their sources, and who, in our estimation, we feel our readers and advertisers can trust and rely on for accuracy and originality. All sources will be listed with the articles, along with the permission, where necessary.

To say this has hurt our business is an understatement. But worse, it is harming the very people we are here to assist. Cooks Source’s is a small, free, local food newspaper-type magazine (called ‘magazine’ because it doesn’t generally include what is known as ‘news,’) whose mission statement is to assist small businesses and farms in our area and help readers learn about sustainable food issues. We promote small businesses and farms in our area, offer recipes because our readers request them, and because we are offered cookbooks and excerpts from distributors, publicists, agents and authors, non-profits, ag organizations, chefs and home cooks so as to help them promote their works. Cooks Source is so named because it reports on food sources: the farms, the bakers, the chefs and the foodie producers and purveyors– to the home and professional cooks and chefs in our area.

The misuse of Facebook discussed above also applies to Ms. Gaudio: she did what she felt was the right thing, and doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment, either. Regardless of what has been said, we liked her article very much.