Friday, 12 February 2010

Brisbane Media - Murdoch newspaper @CityNewsBris uses Twitter content from @beautiful_alone without credit


The second comment on this post was made anonymously, asking "Who cares?" . It was posted by someone posting from a News Limited network.

Also, Luke Royes, the apparent City News reporter whose tweets I have linked to in the post below, has now made his Twitter account private. He may not be aware that Twitter Search will continue to display the tweets he made before he locked the account down.

Since Twitter Search only lasts for a couple of weeks, click here to see a screenshot I just took of the Twitter search screen, showing the tweets that Luke Royes posted that I quote further down in the article.



Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and managing director of News Corporation, is angry at companies who make it easy to find his content on the Internet. Last year, in a speech at the World Media Conference, he called them "content kleptomaniacs":

The Philistine phase of the digital age is almost over. The aggregators and the plagiarists will soon have to pay a price for the co-opting of our content. But if we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid-for content, it will be the content creators, the people in this hall, who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs will triumph.

However, it seems when it comes to his papers, taking the content of Twitter users and publishing it without saying who its from is perfectly OK. Yesterday, February 11 2009, Twitter user Erik Veland posted a message about a post from Twitter user Sarah Fallon (who uses the nickname @beautiful_alone). Erik Veland's post said:

There's been a rash of uncredited tweets in the news lately. Here's @beautiful_alone's from last week in City News

This is a screenshot taken by Erik Veland of what the City News published:

Click here to see the original message posted by Fallon on Thursday February 4th. As you can see, the City News didn't bother to credit Fallon by name, calling her a "Twitter fanatic", which she objects to:

Thanks City News for printing my tweet without crediting me: (via @erikveland). Hmpf. 'twitter fanatic' my arse.
The Brisbane City News is part of Quest Community Newspapers, which is owned by News Limited, News Corporation's Australian arm.

Naturally, when the City News was alerted to this failure to attribute the author of the tweet they republished, they immediately apologised and offered to make restitution to Fallon. Oh wait, sorry, this isn't Bizzaro World. In fact, both responses to Fallon were a joke. First of all Twitter user Luke Royes, who appears to be a reporter for the City News (a story under his byline appeared in yesterday's City News here) replied to both Erik Veland and Sarah Fallon:

@ErikVeland @beautiful_alone Thanks for reading @BrisCityNews tell all your friends to pick up a copy each Thursday!

(Mr Royes got the name of his own newspapers's Twitter account wrong, it's actually @CityNewsBrisbane).

It's unclear if this later tweet posted by Mr Royes is a threat relating to Ms Fallon's complaints about the Brisbane City News' failure to attribute the source of their story:

Not sure if there has been a previously proven case, but defamation on Twitter is possible. Clearly some forget that.

Ms Fallon also received an email in reply to a complaint she sent to the City News:

Clearly News Limited policy does not currently state that the authors of material quoted in full in their newspapers should be credited or paid.

Sure, it's a storm in a teacup. There are a hundred stories more important than this one. But just remember that the next time you hear Mr Murdoch complaining about content being stolen, that he's perched at the top of an organisation who doesn't respect the work of others.


Anonymous said...

Yeh your right...This is a storm in a tea cup! Move on people and start living your lives!

Anonymous said...

ummm... who cares??

David J said...

I don't know. Why did you care enough to leave a comment saying "who cares?"

However, people who like to keep track of the difference between what Murdoch says and what he does might like another little piece of the jigsaw.

David J said...

Oh, by the way, anonymous commenter number 2:

Interesting to see that you visited here from News Limited, owner of the Brisbane City News!

For evidence of this, see:

You're not Luke Royes by any chance?

Natalie said...

David, I think YOU ought to be paid for your content before News Corp deserves to be paid for their stolen content. You serve the Brisbane and Australian community so well with your clear thought and excellent detective skills!

David J said...

Why thank you Natalie! *Bows*

Matt said...

Is there actually any proof that Luke Royes actually wrote the article. Surely there is more than one reporter there?

David J said...

No, there's no proof Luke Royes wrote the article, and I haven't said or implied that he did.

What I have said, and what I have verified in the story, is that he responded to Sarah Fallon and Erik Veland on Twitter with a tweet that made an absolute mockery of the situation. I've also verified that he appears to be a reporter with the City News, or at least that stories under his byline appear in that publication.

My first guess - which could be wrong - is that he left the anonymous comment "ummm...who cares". It could, of course, be anyone who has access to a News Limited computer network.

My guess is based on the following:

1) Royes is the only identifiable person who responded on Twitter to Fallon's complaint.

2) Royes is named in this article.

3) Royes likely has access to News Limited computer networks.

4) Only one person has left an anonymous comment on this blog.

Not proof, which is why I asked if the commenter was Royes, rather than saying I thought it was.

Albion Love Den said...

Hi David,

I get where you're coming from, but I honestly think it's a rather long bow to draw between this tweet being printed and Murdoch's wider obsessions with payment for his content.

Disclaimer - I am a former News Ltd journalist who has, in fact, worked for this very publication.

Granted, the non-attributed tweet was poorly aligned and probably too focussed on being cute, but I hardly think it's evidence of Fearful Uncle Rupert's evil intentions and clumsy double standards.

David J said...

Hey ALD,

I think there is *some* connection. If News Ltd (or at least this small subsection of it) shared Murdoch's concerns about "content kleptomania", publishing a tweet without attribution would at least have rung some alarm bells at the City News.

I agree that it's not as if Murdoch issued a memo to all journalists saying "rip off all the free content you can". Far more likely that someone needed to fill space, and didn't think hard enough about attributing what they used. (They could at least have used Fallon's twitter nickname). But I think it *does* reveal something about the culture (once again, only in Quest Newspapers or even this one publication of Quest - it's definitely a mistake to think that News Ltd and News Corp don't have competing fiefdoms with different cultures and ways of doing things).

Tiara said...

Yeah, I'd steer clear of connecting thing to anything Murdoch. I used to work for a Murdoch-owned company (Channel [V] Int, owned by Star TV, which went back to Murdoch) and he wouldn't have a clue what I or any of the other staff did or cared about. Hell, we had a "rivalry" with MTV Asia but trace back a few ownerships and you'll see that they're both Murdoch-owned.

Just because the company's one of a gazillion things Murdoch owns doesn't mean it's at all a reflection of his values. It's an interesting comparison in terms of media values as a whole, but to attribute some sort of correlation or relationship is somewhat reaching.