It’s time radio stations stop stealing our news, pictures.

January 5, 2017

Image from MCP.

It’s time radio stations stop stealing our news, pictures. 

Editorial by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

Today, I was going to post an editorial about Mason County Press celebrating its fifth anniversary this month. I was going to reflect on the past five years and praise the small team that works so hard to bring you the news of our area, at no cost to you. But, last night my team became aware of something that has been happening to our company that needs to be addressed publicly. So, I am writing a public letter to the owners of this area’s radio stations and putting them on notice.

We became aware that radio stations WMLQ (97.7 FM) and WLDN (98.7 FM), both owned by Synergy Broadcast Group, have been posting photographs taken by Mason County Press and Oceana County Press, and then posting them on their Facebook page, along with tidbits of news stories that our team has written. They have clearly been using photographs and news by other local media as well.

Images and information that appeared on Oceana County Press.

Images and information that appeared on Oceana County Press.

In the past, I have let it slide when I have heard news stories, that we have written, read over the air word-for- word by local radio personalities. This unethical practice has gone on for years, and I have had enough.

So far, I have taken screenshots of almost 20 stories that have been posted the past five months. The most recent, and most frequent, are our coverage of the proceedings of the 51st Circuit Court. Last week, they used photographs taken at a house fire that we covered.

All the local radio stations frequently cite our news stories when they read their local broadcasts. This also is unacceptable. It is not reciprocal, and only provides free services to these media at our expense. 

Our team works hard to bring you the news on our websites. This news is provided to you subscription-free thanks to the generous support of our advertisers. We do not work hard so other local media can steal our news and read it on their radio stations or post it on their social media pages or websites. Those local media sell advertising to sponsor those news broadcasts, essentially taking money from our pockets. It’s time it stops.

Image from MCP.

Image from MCP.

Their news people need to gather their own news the same way we do, by showing up in the field and talking to the sources directly.

Not only is this practice unethical, it is illegal. It is a violation of the U.S. Copyright Act, and we are prepared to take legal action. It should also be noted that the Use Terms of our websites clearly state that the use of our images and stories without the expressed written consent of myself, the owner and editor-in-chief, is not allowed and we reserve the right to demand payment for such usage.

I would like the owners of all local radio stations to know that you are not allowed to read our stories or content from our stories, nor are you allowed to use our photographs or videos. Re-writing the news story is still unethical and outright lazy.

Giving us “credit” for the stories is not enough. Send your own news people out to the courthouse, to a house fire in the middle of the night, to a car crash in the snow, and do your jobs!

Image from OCP.

Image from OCP.

In addition to compensation, we are asking that the local radio stations publicly apologize to us for stealing our intellectual property.

With all that said, I would like to thank the team that works hard to bring you the news on Mason County Press, Oceana County Press, and Manistee County Press.

Allison Scarbrough, our editor, has been with us for four years. Allison is based out of Oceana County and covers the news in that county as well as the courts and police in all three counties. She works day and night to bring you the news.

Dan Vargas (aka Danny V) is our sales and marketing director. Dan has literally grown up in media and has added a much needed high level of credibility in the area’s business markets.

Alan Neushwander writes the weekly Mason County court news. Alan is a veteran of local news and we are proud to have him be part of our team.

Jim Bond brings you his weekly “rant” about life as he sees it with “Shaken, Not Stirred.” Yes, that’s really his name, and he is a master spy on the observations of life here in western Michigan. 

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