Update 17 April 2009: the Press Council has acknowledged receipt of my complaint about the Melbourne Leader and is investigating.
Update 16 April 2009: I’m working on a complaint to submit to the Australian Press Council about this matter. The Melbourne Leader has clearly breached the council’s second principle:
Where it is established that a serious inaccuracy has been published, a publication should promptly correct the error, giving the correction due prominence.
By removing the story from their site they have failed to, and refused to, publish a correction. Stupid is as stupid does…
Update 9pm Wednesday 15 April 2009: rather than adding the required attribution and correction the Melbourne Leader has removed the story from their site. This is more than a breakdown in the editorial process. It’s a comprehensive failure of business management. If they took their editorial responsibilities seriously they’d be honest with their audience and publish the corrections. Removing the story is akin to burying the evidence. But I’ve got screenshots. LOL…
Original story: Months ago I helped Melbourne Leader journalist Suzanne Robson with the story about the illegal building works at the Mirrors bar on Brunswick St. I provided information and comment when she contacted me but my quotes were cut from the published article. I received a phone call from her again on 10 April 2009 asking me about the dumping of rubbish outside the Salvation Army opp shop in Abbotsford. She interviewed me to gain further information about the story I had written and asked for permission to use the photograph I used in my story in the Leader.
I told her permission would be granted for no fee but an attribution stating “photo by Brian Ward / Fitzroyalty” was essential and not negotiable. She checked with her editor and confirmed that this was acceptable. I later emailed her the large original image stating in writing the conditions of use – that the attribution “photo by Brian Ward / Fitzroyalty” must be used in print and online.
The Leader story is now live on their website without any attribution (as at Wednesday 15 April at 4pm). The story also tells a direct lie when it claims that I contacted them: “Fitzroy resident Brian Ward contacted the Melbourne Leader to complain of regular dumping outside the charity every weekend.” This is false. They contacted me after reading my story.
A screen capture of the Leader story at Wednesday 15 April at 4pm
Why would I bother contacting them? They can’t even investigate and report on stories by themselves without borrowing and stealing from Fitzroyalty. Pathetic. I don’t need them and would not waste my time contacting them.
I rang and made a complaint message on Suzanne’s phone. I got a call back from the paper’s editor who blamed the factual error and the failure to attribute the photo to me to “oversight at the sub-editing stage”. Bullshit. It’s pure indifferent incompetence or deliberate failure to recognise the copyright and intellectual rights of citizen journalists.
I demanded that the text on the website be corrected and the photo credit be added to the website within 24 hours, and said that the paper must run a correction story in the following issue. The editor continued to whine and squeal about how difficult I was being so I hung up on her. Death to newspapers? It can’t come soon enough…
The final irony in this is that I criticised the Leader for its terrible terms and conditions for user generated content submissions long before they ran their first story based on my work on the Mirrors illegal building works. This copyright failure is further evidence of their selfish refusal to give credit where credit is due.