Posted on | September 2, 2010 | 3 Comments
When Las Vegas Review-Journal publisher Sherman Frederick assured his own readers yesterday that anyone who posts an article from his newspaper without securing copyright permission “will meet my little friend called Righthaven,” he sounded like a thug, which he clearly intended and enjoyed, but mostly he came off like the kind of fool that has so successfully reduced Las Vegas to one of the most depressed and depressing places in America.
Frederick argued that by using Righthaven, a company suing an ever-expanding array of non-profits, internet bulletin boards and even a local PR firm for unpermitted reproduction of R-J content, he is saving newspapers in an age of rampant internet pilfering.
With saviors like that, who needs a wrecking ball? As held earlier on this site, what Frederick really is doing is rendering R-J content worthless. For a perfect example of how, turn to the paper’s arch rival, the Las Vegas Sun, which yesterday reported that on Tuesday Righthaven “sued Kirvin Doak Communications, a longtime source of news and advertising revenue for the Review-Journal.”
According to the Sun, Frederick is suing Kirvin Doak Communications for reprinting a story made possible in part by information supplied by the PR.
The hot content involved a Celine Dion concert. Frederick’s litigiousness might be funny if it only punished promoters of ear-splitting singers, however, almost from the start of the suing spree, it has corrupted every corner of his newsroom. Last spring, for example, when Righthaven filed suit against the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada for posting articles on its internet bulletin board, in one fell swoop Frederick discredited all the R-J reporting on the desert city’s water policy.
Why? PLAN represents the conservation community of Southern Nevada. You can’t contact an organization for comment, then sue it for posting the article containing its own comment, then expect its members or allies to talk to your reporter again, or for anyone to trust what you print. You can, however, politely contact the organization and ask them not to post the entire article on their web site, but to link to your website and keep it civil while retaining public trust. As it is, Frederick has done nothing but add fuel to the idea that he is using his newspaper to destroy the conservation movement.
No observer is more delighted by Frederick’s war on his reporters’ own sources than the Las Vegas Sun, which has been doing a dandy job reporting Frederick’s march to the sea through his own newsroom. This being Las Vegas, however, even this grudge match is gamed. A joint operating agreement means that the libertarian R-J and the solidly Democratic-leaning Sun are distributed bound-up together. You can’t get one without the other.
None of this bodes well for newspapers or a profoundly depressed Las Vegas. Soon the only thing selling in Southern Nevada may be moving vans. Note to U-Haul: Whatever you do, don’t post any R-J stories mentioning the rate of people fleeing.
*Hat tip to ABM for alerting me to Frederick’s post. This post has been updated. The headline has been changed.