Behind the News

Tampa Tribune blames blog theft on technical difficulties; bloggers pursue issue

The plot thickens over the Tampa Tribune‘s theft of bloggers’ work:

  • Local bloggers tell me TBO.com may have taken posts from the local blog aggregator TampaBLAB for the last three months. Notable point: bloggers must sign up to TampaBLAB to have excerpts of their blogs posted on that site; TBO.com took blog posts without any such agreement.
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

Advice for fellow unemployed journalists at WFLA and the Tampa Tribune

Another round of layoffs for our friends at Media General. The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports that the company eliminated 17 Tribune positions and six from WFLA. As recently as March, the Tribune let go dozens of employees and those left must take nearly two week vacations this summer.

So welcome to the club, boys and girls. So what the hell are you going to do now?

First, join a community of journalists in a similar situation. Right now, I’m particularly fond of Jilted Journalists. Maybe it’s just because the name sums up my feelings on the whole unemployment thing. (h/t to Virtual Journalist for the link.)

Next, apply for the dole. But figure you’ll only get $300 a week at most.

Then, start looking for jobs. If you’re thinking about government work, I have one piece of advice: Don’t take postal service jobs from private companies promising you sample exams and study guides. With all the layoffs, the feds are seeing more of these scams. Get more info here.

(Oh, and if you’re thinking of moving to some hip town and becoming an alt-weekly writer, I’ve got some bad news.)

Now you need some extra money. Check out the latest list of class-action lawsuits. You, too, could get a few bucks in the mail.

In the meantime, you’re going to need to save some money. So, join one of those food warehouse memberships for a 60-day free trial and spend your severance on snacks for the next year. You’re gonna need it.

Finally, join the blogosphere! Come on, all the other reporters are doing it! Believe me, there’s nothing like embracing the technology that destroyed your life’s career. Good luck!