Copy this, KOMO

First, apologies. I’m sure a lot of you who come to CHS for news and information about Capitol Hill could care very little about the business and journalism end of things. Indulge me. This, in the end, is about Capitol Hill and quality news and information in your community.

If anybody is wondering about the information gathering process behind Fisher Broadcasting’s attempt to build a network of Seattle neighborhood news sites, here is an example of what KOMO’s effort looks like.


At 12:58 PM Wednesday, CHS posted this reminder about this weekend’s Capitol Hill design charrette. It wasn’t an extraordinary post but in typical CHS form, I’ve attended two meetings about this event and will be there Saturday to cover and participate in it. The post was one of seven (counting this one) we published during the day. Here is the original article about the Saturday event we linked to from the reminder.

Meanwhile capitolhill.komonews.com had not been updated since Tuesday.

Then, at 4:39 PM, CHS got a very interesting visitor. An employee on the Fisher Broadcasting corporate network (IP: 208.73.29.10) came to our homepage. Here is that visitor’s activity log (Thanks getclicky.com! BTW, I named this IP address ‘Carson from KVI’ last summer after a producer I was working with for an appearance on Fisher’s talk radio station)

At 4:55 PM, this visitor clicked on the link to CHS’s design charrette post.

At 4:56 PM, he or she downloaded a PDF about the event that CHS received from the organizers.

Guess what happened nine minutes later.

At 5:05 PM, KOMO’s Capitol Hill site posted this, its first and only post of the day:

You don’t have to be furious. That’s my job. But I wouldn’t mind if you joined me in disappointment. We work hard at collecting useful community news and information here at CHS and everybody who participates in the site is a big part of that. There is room for a rich community of Capitol Hill sites producing original work. To see that work siphoned away in a few minutes of clicking, cutting and pasting is painful. To know how much effort Fisher is making to sell advertising on this kind of content — that’s where the fury comes from.

But if you’re still not feeling it, what if I tell you this? Wednesday was not the first time Fisher has done this. I sent an e-mail documenting similar actions by employees on Fisher Broadcasting’s corporate network to executive producer Kevin Cotlove on August 24th. Cotlove assured me that KOMO takes such accusations seriously.

So do I. I hope you will, too.

For another example of Fisher Broadcasting’s recent activities, check out this article on Central District News.

28 thoughts on “Copy this, KOMO

  1. There’s got to be a lawyer in this town who just wants to sue someone and won’t charge you a cent. You won’t win, but damn it will be fun to watch.

  2. we’ve been copy-catted several times as well. good job calling those responsible out on their actions! i hope it does some good.

  3. i’ve sent a message to KOMO asking regarding their policies on taking work without citing, and also posted a comment on the actual article on their site.

    Wondering if they’ll actually respond to either.

  4. I am a bit outraged … that our activity at CHS is being so meticulously tracked.

    Do you also track the site previously visited prior to CHS and the site we navigate to following CHS?

    A privacy policy would be nice.

  5. Hey Z, my analytics system is no different than most every other site on the web you visit. And CHS doesn’t even run some of the big ‘enterprise’ level analytics systems like you’ll find on AMZN or MSFT sites. For a quick view of what system a site you visit is using, check out:
    http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com/vendor_discovery_tool

    Collecting the IP address of a site visitor is nothing new and some systems even expose the information on comments (we don’t) — it’s built into many message board solutions, for example.

    Here’s komo’s analytics info, for example:
    http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com/vendor_discovery_tool

    That being said, I will think about producing a privacy policy distinct to the site. Our Terms of Use is here http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/termsofservice

  6. There’s probably a significant difference between the collection of voluminous IP data by, for instance, Google (not they I would ever use Google anyway) for analytics and the collection of a more intimate level of detail followed by person-actuated traces of that data to an individual source and then the publication of that sources internet activity online, as happened in the above post.

    While, given the nature of KOMO’s activity, this was probably a reasonable use would it be within bounds of expectation if, say, the next time I post a comment here with which the sitemaster disagrees that my personal information will be “outed” online? Obviously a precedent was set here and it would be nice to know how much tracking data the site plans to use in the fulfillment of vendettas.

  7. I walked into this conversation via a post on lostremote.com, so forgive me if I’m prematurely posting, but I just want to understand your complaint.

    You’re mad that another blog posted about an event they learned about from your blog? Is that right?

    Or is this because they didn’t cite you in their post?

    I just want to figure out why your site gets a monopoly on stories you break.

    Forgive me if I’m jumping to conclusions or have misinterpreted your complaint. I love a good new media discussion.

  8. I’d love to know this too. That sounds exactly like what it is, which is what EVERYONE does online. How many times has this site posted about news found on other sites again?

    Or is this argument because “The Man” did it?

  9. I don’t understand either. They didn’t copy you word for word, and the PDF wasn’t produced by you, just linked by you. So, please help us understand why you own this story.

  10. I’m also a little confused about the complaint — blogs pick up stories from each other all the time.

    If the issue is lack of citation, then that’s *completely* valid and should be clarified — it’s true that it’s common blog etiquette to at least add a little [via] link at the end of a post filled with content found elsewhere online. But getting angry about content sharing in the blogosphere is a quick way to drive yourself insane. It happens … and the best you can do is be clear about how you want to be cited when it does.

    My humble advice (as someone who’s been blogging since 2000 and makes her living doing social media work): Rather than rail at KOMO for viewing you as a valid news source, try respectfully asking them for citation when they pick up CHS stories.

  11. but they erased all the comments that were there on the post… which I must say is pretty hilarious because the only comments that were there, were Z-O accusing CHS of censoring comments, then KOMO went and deleted the whole comment thread. So Z-O, aren’t you going to rant here about KOMO censoring your comments about CHS censoring your comments?

  12. Rather than rail at KOMO for viewing you as a valid news source, try respectfully asking them for citation when they pick up CHS stories.

    I wasn’t going to jump into this but read the comment from AMS. What a load of crap. Are you paid to post this kind of thing or just hoping to be? This situation is not about “picking up” a story.

  13. Did you really complain about CHS censoring comments? I wish I’d seen but KOMO nuked your stuff too quickly. It’s pretty rare for me to pull a comment outright. There are enough ‘features’ at play to police things that I don’t have to and, really, don’t want to. Would rather let the system work things out. The system includes all the ppl, too. Better to have the discussion usually. Exceptions include disgusting hate speech. One thing that does happen on occasion is somebody’s perfectly, um, innocent comment getting trapped in the occasionally overaggressive SPAM filter. It’s an ongoing challenge for us but for every one good apple that gets stuck (and we can unstuck, btw!), 10 rotten spam apples get tossed.

  14. “Did you really complain about CHS censoring comments? I wish I’d seen but KOMO nuked your stuff too quickly.”

    I did, indeed. In reply to that comment someone replied with the implication they were from CHS and said that my comment had been held for moderation. It sounds like that wasn’t you.

  15. it was me… and to clarify, your comment wasn’t specifically held for moderation, ALL comments from unregistered users have to be approved by a moderator before they go on the site, that’s why there was a delay in your comment showing up on CHS.

  16. Nope, I’m not “paid to post this kind of thing,” nor do I work for KOMO. That said, blogging/social media is indeed what I do for a living, so I thought I’d offer my opinion, since I deal with stuff like blogger attribution issues all day long.

    To clarify: I’m not defending what KOMO did, just suggesting a proactive way to deal with it.

  17. Sad story indeed and you are not alone. My first run-in with KOMO copying was when I visited their Kirkland blog and found a photo I had taken for a story I had written for my blog, http://www.KirklandViews.com.
    KOMO simply lifted the photo, wrote a few summarizing sentences, and then posted it without crediting anyone. I contacted KOMO, as I was quite interested in finding out what their photo credit policy was. I was told it was a mistake and they added a credit for the photo. Since I have not seen many credits for content on KOMO’s Kirkland blog, I can only assume they are copying and pasting from other sources.
    Kevin Cotlove assured me in this email dated August 26 that “we always intend to credit photos”:
    Rob,

    Please accept my apologies. We always intend to credit photos (example:
    http://kirkland.komonews.com/content/found-flickr-kirkland-c)
    and never want to take anything without permission.

    A producer made a mistake in this case. You should have been contacted
    in advance.

    I have updated the story with a credit and link to your site.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Thanks,
    Kevin