Just My Two Cents: Who is the Real Victim?

Newspaper admits to stealing files from competitor

Editorial – CoudyNews.com
by Tim Hallman

With the scandal surrounding News Corp still fresh in many minds, news that a local newspaper has been stealing files from another local newspaper and printing them verbatim, has turned many heads.

The situation: the Endeavor News takes files from a private server typed and formatted by the Cameron County Echo and prints them, without even proofreading the information. Admissions on the part of the Endeavor News and allegations by other sources indicate this has been going on for quite some time.

The problem: it seems the Endeavor News has possibly broken the law and surely violated ethical standards possessed by credible journalists.

The result: people are wrongly named as owing back taxes; foul language is printed in a local newspaper and an apology, albeit one riddled with claims and cries of victimization, is printed in the Endeavor News.

If you are not familiar with the situation, then, please allow me to elaborate.

Two weeks ago the Endeavor News printed a full-page advertisement publishing the names of those owing back taxes in Cameron County. This ad, which is paid for by the county, included a great deal of misinformation, including names that should not have been on the list and foul language such as “Toms Crotch Rot,” and “North Creek Piece of Shitlot/Camp.” Other, more offensive language, was also included in the full-page advertisement.

So, how could such a thing possibly happen? Well, it seems the Endeavor (by admission), has been stealing files from a private server used by the Cameron County Echo, and apparently this has been an ongoing problem. The Publisher of the Endeavor News, Robert Hooftallen, admitted to such by stating in a public apology that last year they had taken the file from the Cameron County Echo without a problem. This year, however, a trap had been set.

It seems the staff at the Echo were aware that Hooftallen had been stealing and using their files, and this year one staff member intended on catching him. The original file uploaded to their private server was later swapped with one that contained the misinformation.

An anonymous source at the Echo told CoudyNews they never thought “in a million years” that the file would actually be published, but as fate would have it, Hooftallen never proofread the file, but rather printed it verbatim, assuming the Echo had the information correct and the work had been done for him.

Now, this is where things get sticky. Hooftallen would like the public to believe they were “duped/hacked” into printing the misinformation. A public apology issued by the Endeavor News is riddled with claims and insinuations they have been victimized. Statements made on Facebook by Hooftallen include language such as “wickedness at a profound level,” referring to the Echo’s uploading of the fake file.

Hooftallen argues they did not commit plagiarism because the information is public. He leans on the fact the information is not an “idea or thought,” but I beg to differ. Hooftallen himself stated that by stealing the file he saved approximately five hours of work. Work that was done by the Echo in formatting and typing the information. The information may have been public, but make no mistake Hooftallen stole someone else’s work.

Coming from a technology background, I can assure you that stealing a file from someone’s server does not qualify as being “hacked.” Had someone uploaded a file to the Endeavor’s server, this would be a much different story.

So, who is the real victim here? One would not know by following along with the Endeavor News’ facebook page, as it was quite evident they were controlling the dialogue in their favor by deleting comments that did not correspond with their argument of “victimization.” Comments congratulating Hooftallen on a job well done were left unchecked, however.

It’s quite obvious those falsely named in the ad were victimized. As a source for public information and record, it’s clear, the public has also been victimized.

But, has the Endeavor been victimized? To answer this question, let’s take a look at an analogy that strips away the emotions and possible biases towards one paper or another. Hypothetically, imagine a man breaks into a grocery store and steals hamburger. Let’s say this man then goes home and cooks the burger and becomes ill. Do we believe the robber is the victim in this situation? Personally, I believe the grocer is still the victim.

Arguments made by Hooftallen blur these lines. Statements declaring they were “hacked” insinuate that someone else uploaded the file to the Endeavor’s server, an equivalent of saying the grocer in the above analogy showed up at the robber’s home and gave him the hamburger.

Also, troubling is that this is not the first time in recent history the Endeavor News has been involved in scandal. Some time ago, Facebook rants were published by Hooftallen declaring the Potter Leader Enterprise printed “libelous” information to harm the Hooftallen family.

The truth of the matter is that Hooftallen himself was the source of the misinformation that was printed in the Potter Leader. Hooftallen made statements online via Endeavor Media’s Facebook page (we have screenshots) indicating that an Austin man and juvenile had been arrested in connection to Samuel Miller’s murder. That post was later deleted after the Potter Leader printed the false information. Hooftallen then verbally attacked the Potter Leader, calling the article a personal attack on his family, as one of those named had the same last name as he.

The following are direct quotes from Endeavor Media’s Facebook page:

IF, and that’s a big IF, anyone reads the PLE any longer, the headline about Jesse Hooftallen is not only completely inaccurate, it 100% libelous. At least this libel case will get fair and accurate media attention.

Instead the headline in the Potter Leader Enterprise was blatantly meant to harm their competitors—- the owners of this newspaper. Shame on you Kim Hoak and Brent Addleman. We have children with that last name. The day will absolutely come when you regret that more than you have the ability to understand today.

Ironic that Hooftallen was attacking a competitive newspaper for printing information he was the source of.

A newspaper is a public service, meant to chronicle events and inform the public. When a publisher is caught red-handed stealing files from another newspaper, without even proofreading the information in those files, it certainly calls that publications credibility into question. This scenario, coupled with that involving the Potter Leader recently, leaves one questioning the motives of said publisher.

I can only assume that most newspapers would have suspended, if not fired, their editor for such scandals. Considering Hooftallen has the distinct advantage of being the owner and editor, that scenario seems highly unlikely.

In closing, it appears the Echo may be pursuing legal action against the Endeavor as a result of this situation. While Hooftallen has argued they did not break the law, a judge may have a different opinion in the matter. Time will certainly tell, and I believe a judge may just decide “who the real victim is.”

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed here may not necessarily reflect the views of CoudyNews.com or its staff. Respectful comments are welcomed.

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  1. Roger M. says:

    I heard about this stuff but not about the Leader.

  2. Dupped... says:

    I read Bob’s comments thru the on-line edition this weekend. I knew there was an issue by the comments on facebook and was looking forward to an explanation. I know Bob and consider him a friend but I was dumbfounded and disappointed with his explanation of what happened. Bob – I commend you for shedding light on what happened but you may have served your paper better by allowing this to just go away. Sorry – bud. Once my subscription lapses I will not be re-newing it. What you did was wrong!!!

  3. Anomyous says:

    Sounds like there just digging the hole deeper. I was starting to like this paper but know no.

  4. Anom says:

    Bob, Bob, Bob, when will you learn. Next time…proofread before publishing!

  5. USA says:

    Yes, what the Endeavor did was wrong. But..is anyone looking at the malicious way that one person at the Echo hurt many people by trying to catch him in a trap? How one person singled out people in the community to go with their plan? Now that is wrong. Everyone is wrong in this situation, but I would have to say the person who “handpicked” the people in their trap is just downright evil. How do you think the people who were listed feel about the Echos’ joke to catch Bob???? It is just an all around sad situation, but I do think that Bob would have never deliberately went after people like the Echo did. Defined their character as well I would say. The funny part is, none of the Echo’s names were listed in the trap. I think both of them should be embarrassed….

  6. Disgusted says:

    I have to agree. This stinks of laziness and unethical business practices. There is simply NO excuse whatsoever for taking someone else’s work and publishing it as your own. While it is likely not plagiarism (the information is indeed a public work) , the fact that it was taken verbatim is still theft of someone else’s hard work. (and how the HECK does an outsider have access to private server of another company??!! I’d be thinking its time to hire an I.T. Security specialist)

    I like the Endeavor, and at least it is a little better than PLE as far as journalistic quality, but something like this seriously puts into doubt whether I would want to support a business that operates in the manner exhibited by Mr. Hooftallen. I would strongly suggest that they consider hiring a professional editor, and Mr. Hooftallen should step down from his post. Trying to save money by cutting corners is one thing.. trying to save money by stealing someone else’s time and labor is something else entirely!

  7. Amazed..... says:

    USA (5:05pm) It’s amazing how you can twist this to be the Echo’s fault. This was a private document on the Echo’s server that never would have seen the light of day had it not been for Mr. Hooftallen’s possibly illegal activity. Mr. Hooftallen actions alone hurt these people – Plain And Simple!!! All the blame falls on Mr. Hooftallen regardless of how you try to twist it. As a local business person, I will never advertise in the Endeavor again nor will he will never get a penny from me for his plagiarized rag.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I found this interesting from Endeavors facebook.

    Endeavor Media
    Contacted by the Echo’s lawyer yesterday who asked to talk with us on their behalf…. need we say more?
    August 16 at 9:39am
    2 people like this.

    Brenda Jordan Please say more , what is this about?
    August 16 at 12:26pm · 1 person

    Bob Hooftallen It is about wickedness at a profound level…
    August 17 at 7:26pm

  9. Mr. Whipple says:

    I ran a grocery store and people would not believe the things people do and think it’s not stealing. Just because you open a container in the store and eat it there doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay for it. Now Bob you have to pay the piper! I’ve often wondered how you get so many articles in your paper with no reporters, now I know. You steal the stuff. Shame, shame, shame!

  10. Still Amazed... says:

    What also amazes me is how he is trying to control this story (and the truth apparently) through his newspaper and his facebook page. Thanks to independent sources like CoudyNews.com to fill us in the “the rest of the story.”

  11. Dumbfounded says:

    I am dumbfounded that this Hooftallen guy even opened his mouth about stealing this information. He says it’s not stealing cause it’s public info. He was provided the same info the Echo received, however the Echo, through do diligence did the work required to format the information. I don’t care who you are, if I put hours of work into anything and someone stole it and took credit for it without even taking a minute to see if my work was accurate is not only a thief, but a dumb one.
    I don’t know what will come of this, but, I can tell you I won’t buy his paper again.

  12. admin says:

    Please note: This article has been updated to include the following:

    The following are direct quotes from Endeavor Media’s Facebook page:

    “IF, and that’s a big IF, anyone reads the PLE any longer, the headline about Jesse Hooftallen is not only completely inaccurate, it 100% libelous. At least this libel case will get fair and accurate media attention.”

    “Instead the headline in the Potter Leader Enterprise was blatantly meant to harm their competitors—- the owners of this newspaper. Shame on you Kim Hoak and Brent Addleman. We have children with that last name. The day will absolutely come when you regret that more than you have the ability to understand today.”

  13. stapuff says:

    i had a friend a year or so ago that was quoted in an issue of the endeavor. he said to me “how is that possible, i was never approached by anyone there” i always wondered how this man was able to put a paper together. now we know. he steals!!!!!!! and you can bet he has done it all along. i will never look, read or discuss the endeavor or mr. hooftallen again!

  14. Bada Bing says:

    Unethical no doubt.

    But soon the Potter Liars chickens will come home to roost. Now THAT will be worth the price of admission.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Plain and simple, Bob Hooftallen stole from the Echo! And admitted doing it! So many times people have been quoted in his paper; people who never talked to anyone from his newspaper. He’s an unethical, egotistical person who wants to destroy anyone who dares to disagree with him. In my opinion, he always thought after he left the Echo and started his own newspaper that the Echo would go away, That never happened, and his ego couldn’t take it.

  16. essie says:

    Can’t wait to hear all the responses to this!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Endeavor has published about area meetings that no one from Endeavor attended…so is Endeavor publishing the info of other local sources? Of course…and of course, the true source of the Endeavor’s info is never attributed, leaving the reader to assume that Endeavor staff was responsible for gathering the information rather than rewording someone else’s work. Kind of like when you plagiarized in high school by copying verbatim and changing a few words or key phrases here and there.

  18. Anonymous says:

    re: Disgusted
    “I like the Endeavor, and at least it is a little better than PLE as far as journalistic quality, but something like this seriously puts into doubt whether I would want to support a business that operates in the manner exhibited by Mr. Hooftallen.”

    “Disgusted” has been duped into thinking the Endeavor’s work was really their own.

    How can you have journalistic quality without any journalists? Why, you steal from the work of journalists at other local papers, including the PLE.

    Endeavor’s “journalistic quality” was only as good as other news sources that “Disgusted” thinks lacked quality in comparison. Ya, we’re disgusted too.

  19. Not surprised in Emporium! says:

    Bob- and you were concerned about that newspaper article mentioning the HOOFTALLEN name in a crime article and the effect it would have on your children!? Well they have a lot to be proud of now, I feel sorry for your whole family. Grow up and own up,you screwed up, BIG TIME!

  20. Anonymous says:

    I always wondered myself why the only time people were credited with articles were when they were from an outside source or someone who worked for the paper that was in college for or had a degree in journalism….where did those people go?

  21. John Prine says:

    I know a guy that’s got a lot to lose.
    He’s a pretty nice fellow but he’s kind of confused.
    He’s got muscles in his head that ain’t never been used.
    Thinks he own half of this town.

    Starts drinking heavy, gets a big red nose.
    Beats his old lady with a rubber hose,
    Then he takes her out to dinner and buys her new clothes.
    That’s the way that the world goes ’round.

    That’s the way that the world goes ’round.
    You’re up one day and the next you’re down.
    It’s half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown.
    That’s the way that the world goes ’round.

    I was sitting in the bathtub counting my toes,
    When the radiator broke, water all froze.
    I got stuck in the ice without my clothes,
    Naked as the eyes of a clown.
    I was crying ice cubes hoping I’d croak,
    When the sun come through the window, the ice all broke.
    I stood up and laughed thought it was a joke
    That’s the way that the world goes ’round.

  22. Not surprised says:

    How can anyone be surprised at this, if you have ever read one of his papers its evident he doesn’t proof-read anything. I think it is hilarious what the Echo did. He was caught, now own up to it.

  23. Brenda Jordan says:

    I understand the Echo filed a law suit against the Endeavor , I wonder if there will be any civil suits filed against the Endeavor for publishing false information. He is responsible for what he publishes in his paper.

    Editor’s Response: See this article for more information regarding litigation in the matter: http://coudynews.com/news/echo-vows-litigation-in-endeavor-news-scandal-commissioner-says-he-will-protect-the-people-he-serves/

    As for those falsely named in the newspaper suing the Endeavor, time will only tell.

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