You only know the price of something when it is actually bought. A sale only happens when buyer and seller agree on a price. We call when the seller makes the price zero, or less than what buyers are willing to pay a "gift".
If the BBR story (or another online source) was the reason that Cheng called AT&T, it's not copyright infringement, it is plagiarism - and it is hypocritical for WSJ to do this on one hand while complaining that other sites must pay a price for "co-opting" -- whatever that means in this context. A follow-up phone call to confirm BBR's story is just CYA.
If WSJ's Cheng became aware of this story apart from any other published source, then it's a coincidence. I don't know. But I do know that Cheng's story followed BBR's.
If old media sites want to make demands on new media, they ought to lead by example and give credit where credit is due.