Behind the News

The End is Near … for panhandling in St. Pete

UPDATE (10:55 p.m.): After a marathon council session, the ordinance passes.

Tomorrow, the St. Petersburg City Council is expected to ban all street solicitations from city roads, including panhandlers, newspaper hawkers and charity volunteers carrying boots.

Frankly, I’m upset. Mostly because I had a really cool blog video I was going to do focusing on panhandlers and their really uninspired signs.

If you’re planning on going to the meeting at 6 p.m. and speaking, I’d suggest you read two things:

The first is an article I wrote about panhandling back in 2008 called “When Panhandler’s Attack.” Hopefully, you get my sarcasm.

The second is an e-mail I received from a friend, G.W. Rolle. He is formerly homeless and has an interesting perspective. He doesn’t like panhandling either, but instead of a simplistic solution, he decided to start a street newspaper. Like other street newspapers across North America, he wanted to convince the panhandling homeless to sell these papers instead of begging. This new ordinance could kill those plans.

Read his thoughts after the jump.

Behind the News

The Tampa Tribune fesses up to blog post theft. Well, kind of.

For the last few weeks, local and national blogs buzzed with the story of Tina Dupuy, a L.A. freelance writer (and blogger) who sent an opinion column to the Tampa Tribune for possible publication. Well, the Tribune did indeed publish the op-ed, but they never paid Dupuy for her work. When she contacted them about it, an editor claimed any unsolicited article sent in was ripe for free publishing. She didn’t agree and made this video.

But this act by Tribune editors did not surprise some local bloggers, including myself. We’ve had our blog posts outright stolencopied word-for-word and pasted onto the Tribune‘s website, TBO.com. Michael Hussey of Pushing Rope even started a Facebook page after editors ignored his request to cease such unethical behavior. And most recently, Dave Dugan of Zencomix sent the Tribune a $400 invoice after finding out the newspaper reprinted at least four blog comics without permission.

Well, the Tribune finally decided to do something about all the negative attention.

First, they paid Tina Dupuy. Here’s her new video about it:

And sometime over the last few days, the Tribune edited those orginal posts they stole from local bloggers to just an excerpt that links back to the original story; basically, what they should’ve done to begin with. I hope this was an effort to right a wrong and not an attempt to erase any evidence of unethical behavior (either way, I do have screenshots and the cached version is still available).

But honestly, a little apology would have sufficed.

UPDATE: Sticks of Fire has a response from TBO.com’s director of content here.

Behind the News

Is the Tampa Tribune stealing bloggers’ work?

Sure looks that way.

Tina Dupuy is a freelance writer and blogger from L.A. She recently sent an op-ed piece to the Tampa Tribune for possible publishing. Well, the Tribune did publish the piece, but never paid Dupuy for it. So she made this video:

Unfortunately, this is no isolated incident. The Tribune has also stolen posts from Michael Hussey’s Pushing Rope blog. Litbrit had a small post copied word for word with no byline, too. And last month, the Tribune did the same thing with my entire post on Charlie Crist and his congenial letter to some neo-nazis. Although these are the only instances I know about, it seems reasonable to conclude they’ve done this to other bloggers who didn’t catch on.

Michael Hussey has contacted the Tribune editors about the plagarism, but they have yet to reply.

Even if there is no copyright infringement here, which I find hard to believe, Tribune editors should regard stealing bloggers’ work as unethical and unbecoming of a huge news organization that brings in millions of dollars a year.

Anyone else have similar experiences?

UPDATE (9/8/09): The Tribune finally noticed all the negative attention and agreed to pay Dupuy. Read about it here. Also, they edited the stolen blog posts on their site to just excerpts, so I changed one of my links above to a cached version of the post they copied from me.

Behind the News, The Unemployed Life

Unemployed journalist rule #1: Get copies of your work immediately!

As any motivated journalist knows, our “clips” — copies of our work for media outlets — are the single most important possession in order to advance our careers. New employers ask for them, current employers review them before giving promotions. Especially in this media downward spiral, our clips are more important than ever.

So what the hell do you do when your employer destroys them?

My friend and former co-worker Anthony Salveggi has a great post up on his site concerning a “reporter’s worst nightmare.” He links to a story about a former International Herald Tribune writer who lost all the online links to his work when the New York Times merged the two paper’s websites:

… my entire journalistic career at the IHT – from war zones to SARS wards – has been erased.

In the past, reporters would photocopy their articles from the newspaper. But in this digital climate, when some stories never make it to print and live only online, more and more editors request digital copies of prospective employee’s work. And the New York Times just royally screwed this guy, well-respected reporter Thomas Crampton.

Turns out, the IHT isn’t the only paper to delete employees’ work. After Crampton detailed the incident on his blog, other reporters wrote to vent their own frustration about losing years of work instantly. From Fortune magazine and Time’s AsiaWeek to all of Knight-Ridder’s local newspaper websites, hundreds of reporters have seen their work disappear.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Get digital copies of your work! Within a week of leaving Creative Loafing, I had both paper and PDF copies of my best stories. (You can find a few examples in my About Me section.) Try to compile your clips as you write them.

Of course, that won’t help all future readers find your content in the future, but it will save you much hand-wringing down the line.