Nikki Finke OWNS the Oprah Winfrey story. She broke the news that Winfrey would leave the show three weeks ago. And she got the transcript of Oprah's announcement up on her site bright and early this morning. By stealing it.

Finke posted embedded video of a small portion of Winfrey's remarks at 9:45 a.m. California time, roughly an hour and forty-five minutes after Winfrey announced on her show that she was calling it quits after next season. She also posted a much fuller transcript of Winfrey's speech. Winfrey's show doesn't air until 3 p.m. in Los Angeles, so where did she get it?

From the Chicago Tribune, which posted the transcript at 10:19 a.m. Central time, or just 20 minutes after Winfrey's announcement. How do we know? Because, a tipster points out, the transcript Finke posted features the same bracketed commentary—"[Her voice grows thick with emotion]"—and typographical irregularities, like double quotes within double quotes. Finke didn't cite the Tribune or—more important—link back to the paper's Watcher blog, which actually did the transcribing. She just copied and pasted without attribution.

Of course, Winfrey's words aren't proprietary to the Tribune. She said them on television. But someone actually did sit down and replayed the speech over and over while actually typing out what Winfrey said. A link wouldn't kill you, Nikki.

Saturday Update: Finke has emailed to explain that she had no idea where the transcript came from before she posted it on her blog, which she says is a somewhat regular occurence. And somewhat bizarrely she accused the Tribune's Watcher blog of lifting it from some other source. She has still not given The Watcher a credit or link. Here is her email:

I actually wound up receiving it several times in my email from a bunch of different emailers. (Again, how do we know it was ONLY the Tribune's?) I did my best to authenticate it. Yes, every so often I get something from another publication sent to me without any labeling. And when I put it up, the writer or company tells me and I credit them unless they want me to take it down. Happens most often with photos.
But I actually credit a LOT (whereas Variety and the LA Times rarely do...)
This was really a cheap shot by John.