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In major need of some help/advice ...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by for_the_hunt, Feb 7, 2008.

  1. for_the_hunt

    for_the_hunt Member

    I'm an assistant sports editor at a fairly big daily college paper, and we've just come across something today that makes me sick to my stomach.

    Without any notice or discussion, the general manager (I thought he was worthless before this, I might add) of this college paper has made a deal with Podunk Times when it comes our stories. The Podunk Times can now publish any of our stories in their paper or Web site without alerting us. They'll pay a very small fee for each story they use --- and the reporters, who work for free, will see nothing.

    I don't want to become a wire service.

    What's worse, the paper that can now use any of our stories (or photos) without notice is more than two-and-a-half hours away! It's circulation is only about 33 percent larger than ours --- and Podunk Times has a larger, competing paper (about double the circulation, I think) in the same town!

    We pride ourselves on our football coverage, have three beat writers and write about a dozen stories a week just on football. We've broken quite a few stories the past two seasons, and The Podunk Times --- from our understanding after speaking with others in the business --- just eliminated their football beat this year.

    Oh, and the kicker of it all? Our general manager has very limited experience when it comes to papers (surprise, surprise) ... and guess what the last rag this manager was at.

    That's right, the very same Podunk Times.

    Am I overreacting here? Because this seems like a pretty damned big deal, at least to me ... I talked to one of the higher-ups at our paper about it, and he basically said his hands were tied. It's up to the general manager, he said. Our newspaper is independent of the university; where do we go from here?
  2. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    So you'd be fine if you got a cut?
  3. for_the_hunt

    for_the_hunt Member

    No --- I don't want a cut. I don't want to be a wire service. The whole thing bothers me; Podunk Times outsourcing to a college paper? That's messed up.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Do they credit the writer and the school paper in the Podunk Times?

    If so, I wouldn't have a problem with it.

    My problem would be with the general manager cutting a deal like that without telling anyone or gathering input.
  5. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    I'd just use stories run in The Podunk Times in my clips files.

    I can see how that would reek to the heavens for a writer/editor at a student paper. I don't know what I'd advise if your hands are tied by the GM. I don't know if your state's press association can do anything. Even if they could, it would probably have to be if the entire staff objected to the decision.
  6. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    I know most college papers (if not all) function with editorial independence from the school, but is this the kind of thing that your school should have a say in? Who does this GM report to, and did they sign off on this arrangement too?

    I don't think the arrangement is necessarily a bad thing, but I think you staff or the paper, in general, should be compensated for it in some way. It's more exposure for you and your writers without you having to really do anything.
  7. Hank_Scorpio

    Hank_Scorpio Active Member

    It's not a great setup, but you do see similiar things happening in the outside world.

    A lot of chains share stories between each other. Example: In Michigan, Newhouse has the Booth chain (seven newspapers within the state). They share stories all the time. Of course, each writer keeps their byline in every paper, too.

    But you're right tho. It's not a good sign for the industry if a professional newspaper is buying stories from a college paper.
  8. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    I'd presume that general manager has a board of directors or some sort of ownership to report to? It would seem like an odd deal to not have veto power somewhere on something like that.
  9. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    There's an example of this in the real world.
    It's called the Associated Press.
  10. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    I don't have a problem with this at all. Heck, be honored that your staff is doing a good enough job that a so-called real paper actually wants to buy some of the stuff.

    No problem on individual compensation. Once an article is submitted or printed, and while I'm not completely sure of the copyright laws, I believe the article becomes property of the paper and no longer the individuals, so if they've reached a deal, if the paper gets compensated that's all that maters. Sucks for the individuals, but that's business in general. After all, the high school zit-faced bozo who looks at me like I killed someone when I ask for ketchup, doesn't get extra pay when he suggests upsizing my combo and I say yes. But I digress.

    And I also don't have a problem with the GM not asking for input from anyone else. Again, that's business. Our business manager doesn't ask our SE for his advice on who to advertise the paper with. He gets paid to make these decisions. Even if they seem stupid. And honestly, from a business standpoint, I don't think that decision is a bad one.
  11. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    yeah chief, it's bullshit. you are not the AP and the podunk press does not own your rag, so it should not have rights to your stories.

    you just got chumped so the podunk press can save a few bucks on its football coverage.

    call me petty, but if it were me, i'd consider waiting until football season and then have every member on staff horrifically miss every deadline the podunk press has for next-day coverage.
  12. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    My college paper made a deal with a local daily where our columns could run on their Web site.

    I loved it. Loved it. It got my columns to a much wider audience.

    There's examples across the country about Paper A using other Paper B's content. Sometimes, Paper A pays Paper B a certain amount of money. Of course, the reporters see none of it. What sense would that make?
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