The Internet Kills Cat Journalism

Where to begin withtoday’s dose of stupidity:

Allegra and Emerson Wong have a website calledCity Felines Blog.
A few months back, the cat people posted a story about the suffering of
a bunch of birds that died in a fire at a wildlife sanctuary.

That created a problem, not because cat people shouldn’t write about
birds, but because the story had been reported, edited and published
originally not by the cat people but by the newspaper people, otherwise
known as the staff of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Now the Wongs are facing a federal copyright infringement lawsuit,
and possible damages, for duplicating the Vegas paper’s work without
permission. They are not alone — roughly three dozen other websites and
blogs face litigation for using Review-Journal stories without

The confrontation has the blogospherewhirring
and sputtering. Much of the commentary drips disdain — just another
establishment media company picking on a bunch of poor little upstarts.
But others cheer the newspaper for standing up to the new-media
freeloaders, whose best work is taking other people’s best work.

It’s not cats, but dogma, that dominate this debate. Newspaper people
believe their cash-starved profession might be saved if only they could
corral and get paid for all the content they create. Internet people
believe the Web is a giant free-form party that boundaries and rules
just might kill.

Yes. The Internet people. Out here on the Internet. We only oppose batshit insane, counterproductive lawsuits because we don’t want our party ruined. We absolutely have no concept of copyright, and all we want to do is drink and blow noisemakers and cash in on the billions we get from Google Ads about catnip. That’s us.

God forbid some of the “Internet people” spend years dissecting the ways in which newspaper companies have earned and spent money that makes lost web revenue look like peanuts, or bring up the inconvenient truth that no matter how much money news organizations rake in from these lawsuits (Rainey’s piece notes that one site settled for $2,185, or approximately the cost of a publisher’s regular Tuesday suit) it won’t begin to compensate for the dollars lost through 30 years’ abject stupidity and rapacious profit-mongering.

God forbid some of the “Internet people” (it’s unclear if Rainey means political bloggers, knitting bloggers, Facebook, D&D fandom, or what) point out that the only people lawsuits like this will enrich are the lawyers who fight over this in court. Working reporters won’t see a damn dime. Or do you want me to believe a bunch of publishers will take every dollar that comes in from harassing bloggers who are driving content to their sites and give it to their underpaid, overworked employees? That they’ll reinvest it in the newspaper, in news coverage and marketing and distribution?

I may be a hard-partying Internet person who just thinks news needs to be, like, free and stuff, dude, but even I’m not that naive.


9 thoughts on “The Internet Kills Cat Journalism

  1. The lawsuit is stupid. That said, if the cat bloggers posted the entire story (which isn’t clear here) with or without attribution (which also isn’t clear), they probably deserve a letter from a lawyer. But if they did jack the story, taking it down with a note of apology should be sufficient. It’s the difference between asking your neighbor to turn down the music or firebombing her house.
    It really goes both ways — bloggers are justly upset when their shit gets jacked by the MSM, but reporters feel the same way … and companies take an even dimmer view. But those companies need to realize that “Internet people” (snort) are often their best customers.

  2. Oh, bullshit. I just looked all through that stupid cat blog, and I don’t see jack shit about a Nevada bird sanctuary fire. Perhaps they pulled the post; I don’t know. But I do know that, for every other thing they talk about that’s not their own feline-POV rambling, they provide a fucking link.
    Fuck these jackholes.

  3. For extra fun, I first heard the term “Internet people” on the Monk episode where he sees a UFO. When told that the donzens of UFO freaks (not enthusiasts–freaks) found out about the sighting “on the Internet”, Monk starts calling them “the Internet people”.
    A large part of the joke hinges on the fact that Monk just doesn’t “get” the concept of the Internet and thinks that the people somehow “came from the Internet”.

  4. I used to work as a reporter for a newspaper in a Georgia city that hosts a well-known stick-and-ball tournament. The publisher had a helicopter. He used his production staff to break strikes at other newspapers. And he shared the wealth: He once gave a summer bonus to his employees – he trucked in a load of watermelons from his South Carolina plantation. Who wouldn’t love a fellow like that?

  5. As an academic librarian, I shudder to think what could possibly become of both copyright (currently under an untested law that is 100 years behind) and the simple academic honesty of citing sources.
    I’m thinking along the idea that even a concerted effort of concerned and talented people could really mess things up with unintended consequences.
    Add into that mix, that rather massive stakeholders would surely want to drive the process.
    And if we don’t do something, it could all happen by backroom brawls and accidents.

  6. Mark, I used to work for the same old billy goat, who not only had a chopper but two private planes.
    He had (and has) an advantage over other media sources, though – his papers were so bad no blogger would ever link to ’em!

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