Monday, January 12, 2009

Seeing red over the land of the Orange

One tries to maintain some privacy and a stiff upper lip ... but readers are owed an explanation if something happens that affects your ability to provide a service to them.

Last week, I wrote an article about Ottawa Gee-Gees basketball guard Josh Wright for the Ottawa Sun's Jan. 8 edition. It appears that around 3:22 p.m. Eastern time that day, it was posted verbatim by WTVH, the CBS affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y., where Wright previously played for the Syracuse Orange. They tried to cover their tracks by saying "Reprinted from Ottawa Sun," but it was not authorized. At best, it's not fair use and at worst it is out and out plagiarism. The fact it is was the third most popular story as of midnight Sunday (more than their story about the Orange's win Saturday over Rutgers) is cold comfort, especially when it's your work and you're not getting any of the revenues. Not to get on the high-horse, but the facts are on my side.

(Update, Jan. 12, 5:20 p.m. — the story has been taken down from WTVH-5's website and its sports director apologized "wholeheartedly" over the phone.)

I wrote posts earlier on the night before teasing the article for this site and for, lest anyone dispute the timeline. The Kingston Whig-Standard, a sister paper of the Sun's, also ran the article ("Former NCAA player joins Ottawa," Jan. 9).

It is true that blogs do use other media to provide context for their posts. However, we all take pains to make sure that we are not representing someone else's work as our own. That did not happen in this instance.

Since when do American TV reporters use phrases such as "non-puck-headed Canadians?" Is that WTVH's target demographic all of a sudden?

The individuals responsible at WTVH might think they did by saying, "Reprinted from Ottawa Sun," but that is insufficient. At this time, there is not a lot of collaboration and content-sharing between metropolitan newspapers in Canada and network affiliates in upstate New York. Our beats seldom overlap.

Hopefully my ant overlords will talk to their ant overlords, and this will be smoothed out to everyone's satisfaction. I'm pissed off and don't know when that will not be the case.

Thanks for listening. Every effort will be made to carry on and keep on keepin' on at Out of Left Field, but it's going to be tough for the next few days.

(Rob Pettapiece has a put a companion post up at Thanks so much, Rob.)


Dennis Prouse said...

You have every right to be ticked. The fact that they put it out there as, "by WTVH Sports" in the lead, and then placed the Ottawa Sun reference at the bottom is low rent. Standards on this kind of thing really seem to be slipping in recent years - please keep us informed as to what kind of action Sun Media is able to get out of the station in question.

Anonymous said...

courtesy would be for them to at least provide a link.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if that CNY television station actually read your story before stealing it or just grabbed it once they read your headline?

The Puckster

sager said...

The Sun eds. used a different headline. Thanks for the supportive comments; again, this is between the big bosses, far as I'm concerned.

Mike Radoslav said...

It's awful and underhanded, a great show of journalistic integrity if I've ever seen one before!

Although it does sting the fact that it was the number one viewed story is something worth taking home with you, if you're looking for a positive. Hopefully someone's head rolled for this one!

sager said...

Nah, no one's head needed to roll. It's cool.