Being in the newspaper business isn’t easy. There are myriad reasons why this is true, we’ve talked about some of them in earlier columns, so we won’t rehash them here.
On Sunday, we discussed the ills of social media, which includes platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to name a few. A study published in Forbes magazine discussed the psychological effects social media has on us.
However, the issues go deeper than that. On a professional level, social media causes a whole slew of other issues, to include plagiarism, not obtaining permission to use content and not properly crediting articles.
Many hours are spent researching, making phone calls, requesting documents and putting stories together for our readers, so when someone comes along and takes our hard work and republishes it somewhere else without giving us credit, we take it personally.
Such is the case with a local “watchdog” page that recently took one of our stories from our website and republished it in its entirety on their Facebook page. Yes, Rosamond Community Watchdog, we’re talking about you.
It’s not the first time the administrators of this page have taken our content, stripped off our bylines and republished it as their own.
We’ve reached out to them at least twice, asking that they properly credit the stories to the writers and the newspaper, but they have ignored us each time. That’s right, they didn’t even bother to respond.
We don’t know if they come from a news background, but we’re going to assume they don’t. Otherwise, they’d know that stealing content and passing it off as your own is a fireable offense, at the least (if they worked for a real news source) and a lawsuit, at the worst.
We’re not their only victims, though. One look at their page will tell you that they have no qualms about taking content from all types of other media sources and running it, unattributed.
Granted, social media is a bit different than publishing. If you share a friend’s meme, you’re not going to get in trouble. Chances are, they shared it from another source, who shared it from another source and so on. But we’re not talking about memes here. We’re talking about reporters’ stories and content that belongs to a publication.
Usually, if you ask permission to a story or photo, a newspaper will grant it, with the understanding that it is properly credited.
It’s not uncommon for social media pages to share stories from newspaper websites with proper attribution, or a link that takes them to the newspaper’s website. That’s not the issue. The issue here is that the person who posted our content took the time to strip our byline off, which means the content could have come from anywhere — or they could have written it. They went so far as to add their own photo, which tells us that they are trying to pass it off as their own.
We don’t appreciate having our hard work taken and claimed by someone else.
Since we received no response from the administrators of that page, we are asking here, that they stop stealing our work.
By doing so, it makes them no better than the criminals we write about.