"Media Blahblah Association"

2008
Jun
18

This Ass. Press vs. the Bloggers situation is getting more and more interesting (like the bogus-Chinese-curse “May you live in interesting times”). The Ass. Press is meeting with someone from the nebulous Media Bloggers Association (which is even more nebulous right now as it’s in the middle of some kind of reorganization – not accepting new members, and its homepage hasn’t been updated since ’07). And the prominent headlining of the group blog on Newsweek done by some MBA members unfortunately gives the impression that they are ALL its members.

The MBA (NOT the best choice of initials) has been made fun of a lot since this story broke, some unfairly, some not. MBA President (and appearing to be the only person working there) Robert Cox explained some previously-unrevealed backstory on the incident in his semi-obscure blog (not linked from the MBA homepage). But he may need to proofread some of what he wrote (I quote one long paragraph, hopefully within Fair Use).

As we have done in hundreds of other cases we agreed to help Rodgers by offering him legal support and reaching out directly to the plaintiff to see if we could resolve the matter without getting into a major legal battle. In all but 14 (now 15) cases have we had to go public or get into any sort of battle to resolve a case. [wendell’s note: sounds strange; shouldn’t there be a NOT in there somewhere?] Most of the time the legal threat evaporates when the plaintiff discovers that no only [wendell’s note: well, here’s part of a NOT] does the blogger have representation but that he has a large law firm defending him. Sometimes the blogger is in the wrong, usually because they do not understand media law, and once we explain the law to them they make changes to their site that resolve the issue. In those cases where we take a hard line because we believe the blogger is in the right we stand our ground until we get a positive outcome for the blogger. [wendell’s note: the last two sentences are grammatically correct but after the previous confusion I had to read it twice just to make clear what they do when the blogger is in the wrong vs. in the right. Use of “in those cases” always makes me feel it’s referring to the previous sentence, which this does not. I think too much.]

But something else on the MBA site really got my attention. The MBA News-Blog (which IS linked from the homepage) has an item linking to an article on redOrbit.com, “an online community specifically for those with an interest in science, space, health and technology” about how Bloggers Seek Training To Avoid Legal Pitfalls (MBA News used the same title). When I looked at the article, credited to “redOrbit staff and wire reports”, it looked very very familiar.

Remember the Ass. Press article I did my tongue-in-cheek long quote of, injecting “narf” after every fourth word to avoid the five-word fee? (Which, yes, I know would never have worked, but IT WAS A JOKE) Well, redOrbit’s article is the almost exact same thing; that is, a paragraph-by-paragraph minor rewording, with all the quotes left intact. Look:

Ass.Press: Miami real estate agent Lucas Lechuga began blogging to share his knowledge of the local market. He didn’t bargain for a $25 million defamation lawsuit when he wrote that a Miami developer had gone bankrupt decades ago.

redOrbit: When Miami real estate agent Lucas Lechuga began blogging to share his local market knowledge, he never expected a $25 million defamation lawsuit for simply writing that a local developer had gone bankrupt decades ago.

Ass.Press: In Lake Geneva, Wis., commodities trader Gary Millitte registered the Internet domain name LakeGenevaNews.com eight years ago, but is so worried about the legal boundaries of writing online that he still hasn’t started the ultra-local news site.

redOrbit: Others, such as Lake Geneva, WI commodities trader Gary Millitte, registered the Internet domain name LakeGenevaNews.com eight years ago, but is so concerned about the legal boundaries of blogging that he still hasn’t launched his ultra-local news Web site.
[wendell’s note: flawed re-write here: “Others” did not register the domain name, just Gary Millitte.]

Ass.Press: Non-journalists entering the world of blogs, online feedback forums, online videos and news Web sites provide information that newspapers and other media can’t or don’t. But many are now turning to professional journalists for help with dilemmas they’re facing: When is something libelous? What’s the difference between opinion and news? And how do you find public documents?

redOrbit: A growing number of non-journalists are entering the world of blogging, providing Web sites with information traditional media don’t or can’t. Many are now looking to professional journalists for training on matters such as determining when something is libelous, differentiating between news and opinion and locating public documents.

Ass. Press: About a dozen would-be reporters navigated the basics of journalism at a recent training offered by the Society of Professional Journalists in Chicago. The group plans similar seminars this month in Greensboro, N.C., and Los Angeles.

redOrbit: A recent introductory journalism course offered by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) in Chicago drew about a dozen would-be reporters. The group is also planning similar seminars in Los Angeles and Greensboro, N.C. this month.

Ass.Press: Lechuga, who didn’t attend the training, said it would have been a good idea. Having jumped into the world of online publishing with a finance degree, he said the claims against him — which are still pending — arose from a question of semantics, and he would have chose his words differently if he had a second chance.
“It would definitely have been something that would be worthwhile and I’d (have) been able to prevent this,” said Lechuga.

redOrbit: “It would definitely have been something that would be worthwhile and I’d (have) been able to prevent this,” Lechuga, who didn’t attend the training, told the Associated Press.
Lechuga moved into online publishing with a finance degree, and said the pending claims against him were based on semantics. He would have chosen his words differently if he had a second chance, he said.

Ass.Press: Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., which supports working journalists, praised the effort to offer training to so-called citizen journalists.
“I think that what we’re moving toward is some kind of positioning between amateur and professional,” Clark said.

redOrbit: Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., praised the effort to offer training to citizen journalists.
“I think that what we’re moving toward is some king of positioning between amateur and professional,” Clark told the AP.

it goes on… and on…

Ass.Press:Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association, said more than 100 judgments valued at $17 million have been handed down against bloggers over the last three years — about 60 percent for defamation, 25 percent for copyright infringement and 10 percent involving privacy.
“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” Cox said. “Bloggers are being asked to write checks. The threats against bloggers are very real. The costs are very real.”

redOrbit: More than 100 judgments valued at $17 million have been handed down against bloggers over the last three years, according to Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association. Cox said about 60 percent were for defamation, 25 percent for copyright infringement and 10 percent involved privacy.
“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” Cox told the Associated Press
“Bloggers are being asked to write checks. The threats against bloggers are very real. The costs are very real.”

At least the “author” of the redOrbit piece consistently (repetitively and redundantly) replaces “said” after every quote with “told the Ass.Press”.

Is this the way web-based content providers are SUPPOSED to deal with Ass.Press content? I don’t think so, and I really hope the Media Bloggers Association doesn’t either.

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