Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Art Of Stealing The Other Guy's Property

I would suggest must reading of Ian Shapira's story in today's Washington Post for those of us who use the Internet to write articles and opinion pieces plundered from reliable properties such as WaPo, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist and others of that ilk.

Shapira said his ego was stoked when the snarky cultural website Gawker cherry picked the best lines from his 1,500-word article on "Anne Loehr, who charges her early-Gen-X/Boomer clients anywhere from $500 to $2,500 to explain how the millennial generation (mostly people in their 20s and late teens) behaves in the workplace."

When Shapira's editor deflated his ego by asking him where's his outrage, the reporter began reflecting on the dwindling demise of working for great newspapers with generous pay and perks, a meltdown chiefly caused by Internet freeloaders stealing this hard-earned, vetted material. Pouring salt on the wound is some sites placing ads along side their stolen stories but absolutely no compensation for the newspaper or its authors.

If you read Shapira's entire article which I did, you must feel some pangs of guilt. If not, I suggest you take a crash course in economics, plagiarism and sensitivity training. I mean, you're heartless, man.

At any rate, in my case, I confess crimes as accused in the article such as linking the story but failing to mention the newspaper or reporter and quoting it exhaustively throughout the post.

I promise never to do that again. I will link, attribute and keep the quotes gleamed from the story at a bare minimum. Call it Remmers Rule No. 1 in blogosphere posting. I should have known better. I have been on the flip side of this having spent 26 years in the newspaper business and never credited, let alone reimbursed, when AP and UPI and Copley News Service ran my photos and stories verbatim.

Meanwhile -- and I know I will catch hell for this -- Saturday's firestorm throughout many websites, including TMV, blazed with rumors that former Alaska Gov. Sara Palin and husband Todd were getting a divorce. There were no prima facia facts in any of the accounts I read.

The frenzy was disgusting. Let's assume for a moment the rumors were false. Can we expect a correction -- or, God forbid, an apology -- from the blogs? I'm not holding my breath on that ever happening.

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