Blogosphere: February 2005 Archives

Blogging like marital conversation?

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Novice Gleeson guest blogger Bugga says marriage has prepared her well for one-way communication:

See, what this reminds me of is a wife (me) talking to a husband of many years. What I say is probably of vital importance to me, and I hope he is listening intently as I speak. Not quite hanging on my every word, but close.

Through the years he has developed a variety of expressions on his face, which have fooled me many times into thinking he actually heard what I said. He even makes the occasional "comment" just to show he is listening. Aha - we have been blogging all our married life and didn't know it.

So, Gentle Readers, I am on to you and I understand if you feel a need to tune out now and then. I will still love you. I still love my husband and he has probably only heard half of what I had to say.

Turkey ALA king

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One of the more notable reactions to the Tulsa World's legal threats against BatesLine came from Michael Gorman, the incoming president of the American Library Association (ALA). His response was not a defense of fair use and its role in public discourse, but a knee-jerk reaction, which, as it turns out, reflects a deeper lack of respect for blogs, the Internet, and the electronic availability and searchability of the written word. Karen G. Schneider has documented Gorman's reaction to the World controversy, along with his other controversial statements, on the blog Free Range Librarian.

In a response to Bob Cox's remark, "Comprehensiveness is not part of the blogger's 'value proposition,'" Ron Coleman notes that the difference between mainstream media and blogs in this respect is more a matter of perception than reality:

The myth here is that the MSM does present a comprehensive picture. In fact, it doesn't. But unlike a blog, it pretends to. I am not saying blogs are better than newspapers, because in many important respects, they're not. But even when they are dishonest, they are honestly dishonest - you know the viewpoint of the writer by virtue of his other postings, his web rep, whatever. Whereas when the [New York Times] or the [Los Angeles Times] omits key information or context, the reader assumes he is getting "all the news that's fit to print" ... without really appreciating how "fitness" is being decided.

Another Tulsa blogger

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One more added to the blogroll:

No Blog of Significance: Dan Paden says it's mostly a place to post notes from his Sunday School class at Sheridan Road Baptist Church, but so far it's about everything else, including some sort of tangle with Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom about Kid Rock playing at a presidential inaugural ball.

Note to my single, female Tulsa readers: On a comment on this site, Mr. Paden claims to have knowledge of a "wide variety" of "excellent matrimonial prospects" who "have the advantage in looks." If you're wondering if all the good men are taken, Dan seems to think not and claims to know where to find them. Better hurry, though; he was hawking these prospects to an out-of-town blogger.

The "Tulsa World silliness," as Ron Coleman calls the World's legal threats against BatesLine, got more airtime on CNN's Inside Politics on Friday, talking about the Media Bloggers Association coming to my assistance. Bob Cox of the National Debate (and the founder of Media Bloggers Association) has video and a transcript excerpt.

Bob Cox was scheduled to be on MSNBC today to discuss bloggers organizing. He should have video up at some point.

Bob also has a thorough entry on the hard work of being a credentialed blogger at an event like CPAC:

As I attempted to sort out my role at CPAC, I reflected on a point made by Judith Donath of MIT coming out of the Harvard confab, "bloggers tell their readers what they think is interesting or important, but there is no attempt at comprehensiveness." I agree but I don't take that to be a bad thing. Comprehensiveness is not part of the blogger "value proposition". Blog posts are more like points of light, colored onto canvas by George Seurat; sometimes the result is a grand mess while other times the result is La Grande Jatte.

I soon accepted that my role at CPAC was not to determine the news or to fit my reporting into someone else's (an editor, a readership) larger definition of what is important about the event I was covering but rather to write about what I could see that seemed important to me and share that with my readers (and the readers on the CPAC feed aggregator). And so I wrote about what I saw: a heated argument between Michael Medved and Al Franken, a backstage look at a surprise appearance by Matt Drudge during Ann Coulter's speech, John Fund helping himself to laptops in Bloggers Corner because one of them was mine and other little tidbits of information that, taken together with other CPAC coverage by blogger, might bring blog readers a more personal view of the goings-on at CPAC.

MBA general counsel Ron Coleman (wearing his blogger hat) has a couple more comments related to the Tulsa World silliness here (on the perils of deep linking) and here (on the best way to protect your copyright).

Meanwhile, Okiedoke has had visitors from tulsaworld.com looking for passwords.

Hooah Wife: "The journal of a Jewish moderate conservative military wife whose husband is deployed to Iraq." Home is "wherever the army sends us," but they're in Oklahoma for now.

Jack Lewis: Another Tulsa-area resident, and a prolific blogger on national and international news, with a very attractively designed website.

Linda's Thoughts: Yet another local blogger, mainly about faith and family. Her latest entry is worth a parent's consideration -- some thoughts about the teachable moment when a child is just settling into bed.

Don Singleton: That's a name that will be familiar to many Tulsa computer professionals and hobbyists. Don is president of the Tulsa Computer Society and involved with Helping Tulsa, a group that refurbishes computers for schools, churches, public housing, and other non-profits. He just started blogging a couple of weeks ago, and has written several entries on social security reform.

A reminder: If you're on my blogroll, but your name doesn't rise to the top when you update, be sure that you're sending a ping to blogrolling.com -- check their website to find out how.

Assorted linkage

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Dean Esmay is blogging about Bouguereau again. (NB: Artistic depiction of busty substances.)

Dean's also blogging for Terri Schiavo:

Please click here and read this.

Come on. Are you all that certain you know all there is to know here that's important?

Are you really?

If you aren't all that certain, and if you have a weblog, do you think maybe you should tell your readers about this?

You guys know me. I'm no pro-lifer or religious extremist. I'm anything but. So, are you sure you know everything that's important to know here??

(This post stays at the top of Dean's World all day today. And by the way, click the links and read them before commenting, dammit!!!)

It's heartening to see that Terri's cause is just as compelling to those who are not suffering from the "unpleasant reek of fundy mindrot." Dean asks the question that cuts right to the heart of the problem. People hear bits and pieces on the news, they see that Randall Terry and the pro-life community is involved, they hear that the Schindlers are devout Catholics, they hear words like comatose and vegetative, and they reduce the whole situation to a template and invoke the appropriate knee-jerk reaction.

Meanwhile, Discoshaman is soliciting reader comments about whether marijuana should be decriminalized. He's also trying to figure out how best to label what kind of conservative he is. He coins the phrase "humane conservatism":

While Conservatism has gotten better at winning battles, it seems to have lost something of itself along the way. We've never agreed on our ultimate vision of things, but in decades past we had insightful, productive debates about it.

Conservatism is more than Grover Norquist's "Leave Us Alone" Coalition. It's more than the Chamber of Commerce. It's more than a handful of unconjoined reactionary sentiments. Unless we have some vision for the just, good society, how can we know what to conserve?

From my reading of Le Sabot Post-Moderne, I detect a certain crunchiness to Discoshaman's conservatism. (Thanks, Google -- here's evidence.)

The Penitent Blogger is back in America from her tsunami relief journey to southern India but finds herself on a second and emotionally more arduous leg of the same journey:

Once back home, I could barely look at the 400+ photographs without crying. I have not yet been able to sit down and edit the seven hours of video. Every single picture and image is a complete story that has to be written, and it is very overwhelming to me, a woman who until now had barely travelled up north, let alone visit a devastated third world nation.

However, I will begin this second leg of my journey now. We had the physical journey, now I must commit to the spiritual journey of not abandoning the tsunami victims in Tamilnadu, just because the press has now decided to report on something more titillating. Ten thousand people suffered horrible deaths in Tamilnadu, which means at least fifty thousand survivors have had their lives changed forever. We helped 100 orphans and families. How many more are out their needing assistance? Fr. Leo is right; ten dollars can feed an Indian child for a month, and I am going to feed as many of these children as I can.

You can help feed them, too, by clicking here.

Finally, if you're a homeschooler or (like me) sympathetic to the movement, this cartoon from the Arizona Daily Star will outrage you, but you'll appreciate the witty response by Jon Swerens of Kirkcentric. (HT: Dawn Eden, who says the abusive dad in the cartoon looks like "Richard M. Nixon reimagined as a vinyl-record store clerk.")

From the blogroll

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The St. Gabriel's tsunami relief team is back in northwest Arkansas from their trip to India. You'll find a long but preliminary account here, and some reflections on poverty and the people of India here. And they still need your help -- click here to find out how you can donate. (Hat tip: Penitent Blogger.)

Discoshaman exposes some of Gary "Baby-Unwise" Ezzo's many theological defects -- like Ezzo's belief that children are cleansed of sin by spanking. And he has some thoughts on socialism and social homogeneity.

Eric Siegmund says skip Starbucks' new Chantico -- for a real treat, pull up to a Texas Stop Sign for a chocolate covered strawberry blizzard. It's much better, and not that much worse for you. (Dairy Queen has almost vanished from these parts, but its many stores live on as used car lots and burger joints, most prominently as Big Edna's Burger World in the movie UHF. It was really Harden's Hamburgers, which later moved to another disused DQ. It was just down the street from where I worked. Once a fortnight I'd walk there for lunch, order a hamburger steak dinner, onions grilled in, Curly-Qs, and a Dr. Pepper, and do the Trans-O-Gram in the brand new issue of National Review. $2.99 with a coupon, and they gave you a new coupon with every meal. But I digress. Mmmmm. Onion burgers.)

Dwayne (AKA Mike Horshead) has some daytime photos of vintage Illinois signs, and promises to get some neon night shots on his next trip back.

Boyden McElroy has a rantish but reasonable take on nouthetic counseling, or rather, some of its proud practitioners.

Over at Samizdata, Brian Micklethwait writes of the music of Johann Strauss II, and that golden moment in history when pop culture and high culture meshed. (A favorite memory of our 1990 visit to Vienna: standing-room tickets to Die Fledermaus at the Volksoper. There's nothing like hearing Strauss in Vienna.)

That oughta hold you.

Great segment about the contrast between blogs and real journalism on the Daily Show -- you'll need RealPlayer and a high-speed connection to see it properly. (Hat tip: The Corner.)

Here's a transcript.

Movable irony

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I was amused to see that Sunday's Tulsa World features an Associated Press story about Ben and Mena Trott, the founders of Six Apart and creators of Movable Type, the content management system that powers this and many other blogs.

By the way, you will notice that the link above (and links in other entries today and yesterday) is to a story on the part of the Tulsa World's website which is open to anyone, not just to subscribers.

Here's the round-up on this week's Okie blogger bash consortium writing assignment. I picked newspapers as the topic of the week:

Good stuff, all around, but I will have to give the nod to Charles for a great bit of history writing about the Oklahoma Journal. Along with the nod, he gets the baton. Watch Dustbury for next week's topic.

Coming up later

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I'm taking a quick break from work for a quick update. I typically post only in the late evenings, after work and family obligations, and that will be the case this evening as well. Over the course of the weekend, I hope to post some updates on local issues -- the FAA's scrutiny of Jones Riverside Airport, the recall petitions filed against Councilors Medlock and Mautino -- plus an essay on urban design and disability, some updates on Terri Schiavo's situation and what you can do to make a difference, some thoughts on evangelicals and Republicans in New York, and some reaction to the blogosphere's reaction to the Tulsa World's attack on bloggers.

To tide you over until then, check out the blogroll to the right -- the blogs at the top are the most recently updated. And here are some links of interest:

  • Peggy Noonan has an essay in the Wall Street Journal on bloggers and old media: "The Blogs Must Be Crazy".
  • Here's a great Cox and Forkum cartoon: "Pajamas at the Gate". Compare that to Wednesday's Pat Oliphant cartoon, also about bloggers.
  • Hyscience has the latest on Terri Schiavo's fight not to be starved to death. There's a crucial court hearing on Monday, and pressure needs to be brought on Florida's public officials to give Terri justice at long last.
  • Just as he did for the Republican National Convention, Wizbang's Kevin Aylward has set up a blog aggregator for bloggers covering the speeches and panel discussions at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. You'll find it at www.cpacbloggers.com.
  • You'll want to read Kevin McCullough's CPAC coverage as well, and listen to his radio show for interviews with newsmakers and fellow bloggers. Friday's show will repeat all weekend until he goes live again Monday at 1 p.m. Eastern time.
  • Joel Helbling has posted a nicely organized summary of stem cell research discoveries over the last three months, and he plans to add to it as he has time. Mainstream media tends to blur the distinctions between embryonic stem cell research, which is controversial because it involves the destruction of human life, and research on stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood or adult tissues, which does not involve the destruction of life. Joel's table makes those distinctions very clear.

Guess that was more than a quick update....

The following letter from my attorney is en route to the Tulsa World tonight, in response to their allegations of copyright infringement and threat of legal action against BatesLine. I am represented by Ronald D. Coleman, general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association. Many thanks to Bob Cox of the National Debate (and a founder of the Media Bloggers Association) for contacting me about the organization, and many thanks to Ron Coleman for working with me. If you are a blogger engaged in coverage or criticism of the media, you should join the Media Bloggers Association.

Here is the text -- a PDF of the letter is linked below.

February 17, 2005

BY OVERNIGHT

Mr. John R. Bair
Vice President
Tulsa World
315 South Boulder
P.O. Box 74103-3423
Tulsa, OK 74102-1770
RE: Batesline.com

Dear Mr. Bair:

I am general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association (www.mediabloggers.org) and write on behalf of Mr. Michael Bates, in connection with your letter of February 11, 2005.

The World's complaint appears to be twofold. Let us dispose of the first issue quickly -- the claim that Mr. Bates's website "has inappropriately linked . . . to Tulsa World content." Why a newspaper with a website would want to prevent Internet users from gaining access to that website, regardless of the referral source, is a question best left to the World Publishing Company's board of directors. But while Mr. Bates's links may be "inappropriate" in the view of your newspaper, Mr. Bair, there is no legal basis whatsoever on which the World may prevent it.

Regarding the World's claim that Mr. Bates is reproducing copyrighted material in whole or in part in violation of the Copyright Act, this accusation must be rejected as well. Not only does the First Amendment protect Mr. Bates's activities, but the Copyright Act itself includes a "fair use" exception, granting parties the ability to use copyrighted material without permission from the owner for purposes of commenting or criticism. Mr. Bates's use of excerpted material from the World is obviously fair use and constitutionally protected speech.

Your organization's attempt to intimidate a small media competitor and a critic with the threat of legal action over his free speech is ironic, but it is unfortunately not unique. The Media Bloggers Association Legal Defense Project was formed expressly for the purpose of providing legal advice and counsel, and if necessary to assist in securing local counsel, for webloggers and others whose freedom of expression is threatened by established institutions who act as if the purpose of the First Amendment were to protect a sort of media monopoly. It is not.

We write therefore to advise the World that Mr. Bates is represented by counsel and by the Association, and that any further attempts to silence him, including the filing of meritless litigation as threatened by your letter, will be vigorously defended, including to the extent appropriate by the seeking of sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 in connection with the filing of meritless litigation claims.

Very truly yours,

Ronald D. Coleman

You'll find a PDF of the letter here.

The number three result on Google for "Tulsa World" is this.

The number four result is this.

The number five result is this.

Kevin McCullough reveals that big league radio talker Sean Hannity doesn't have a clue about blogs.

I'm grateful to ktul.com, the website of Tulsa's ABC affiliate, for taking an interest in the Tulsa World's threats against this blog and other bloggers and websites. I was impressed that they were able to reach World publisher Bobby Lorton and get comment from him for this afternoon's story.

Here's what Lorton said in response to my statement that linking can't violate copyright, because nothing is being copied:

Lorton says Bates is opening a channel to PDF, or Portable Data Files, hosted on the Tulsa World website. Lorton says those files are owned by the Tulsa World and should not be free, but that they cannot lock the files.

"One way to stop it is to pull the PDF files, and I don't want to do that," Lorton said.

The World's website is unlike any other newspaper site with which I'm familiar. Some content -- theater listings, classifieds, and some special sections -- is free, but HTML-formatted versions of the articles from the current week are only accessible to subscribers. The firewall for current stories was added a few years ago; I forget exactly when. Before that, current stories were available without registration of any kind.

The World provides a selection of stories from each section in their wireless edition -- you don't need a subscription to access any of those stories.

Stories older than a week are in an archive which goes all the way back to 1989, and they cost 50 cents each (if bought in bulk). The same archive is available for free at Tulsa City-County Library branches. If you needed to search the World's archive, you could go to the library, do a search, then e-mail every story of interest back to yourself for later review at your leisure.

The World allows Student-Voices.org to publish the full text of a selection of their news stories and some editorials, mostly about local government. They have stories going back about a year. No subscription or registration is required to read these stories.

You also don't need a subscription to access PDF files of every page of every edition of the Tulsa World going back to sometime in early 2003. A Google search for PDF files on tulsaworld.com returned 3,510 results.

Balloon Juice actually phoned the Tulsa World's web editor:

I spoke to Scott Nelson, the Tulsa World Web Editor (They can be reached at (918) 583-2161), and tried to make sense of their policy, and got nowhere. I am even more confused with what they are trying to accomplish than before I called.

According to Mr. Nelson, you need written permission to print the article and must print the article in full. I responded that I didn't want to copy a whole article, just a quote, and he said that was not allowed and would be copyright infringement. When I asked why, he said it was their policy so that things wouldn not be 'taken out of context.' ...

He also said, contrary to the letter to Bates Online, that linking was allowed, which leads me to believe that Mr. Bair, the Vice-President, was perhaps a touch overzealous or using terms he was not familiar with. Who knows.

Counterclaim

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Here is one of my favorite responses so far to the World's demands. A blog called Christianity and Middle Earth has posted a tongue-in-cheek letter in response to Tulsa World VP John Bair:

I am writing on behalf of batesline.com, a weblog described as Reflections on the News by Michael D. Bates. We have recently learned that you and/or your secretary have reproduced (in whole or in part) Mr. Bates's name, address and the name of his website and have inappropriately typed said name, address and website name on your letterhead.stationery, and presumably, although I do not have the evidence immediately at hand, also typed it onto a first class envelope which was then sent through the mail, which act may be a further violation of federal statutes. ...

Therefore, we hereby demand that you immediately remove any BatesLine material from your files, to include unauthorized URLs for that website, and cease and desist from any further use or dissemination of Mr. Batesís copyrighted material. If you desire to use (in whole or in part) any of the content of batesline.com or Mr. Batesís name and address, you must first obtain written permission before that use. If you fail to comply with these demands, Mr. Batesís vast network of blog-friends will not be amused and will probably make enough of a bloggy fuss to discourage such imbecility in the future.

Read the whole thing.

Bobby Lorton speaks

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Just time to link this: KTUL's website has a new story with comments from World publisher Bobby Lorton and reaction from me.

Funny: He doesn't want me to quote the paper out of context, but he doesn't want me to link to the whole story so people can read it in context.

Whirled threat update

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More nastygram reports:

The Tulsa World sent the same threat of legal action to the hosting provider for www.tulsansforelectionintegrity.com, the website for Tulsans for Election Integrity (TfEI) the opposition to the recall of reform Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. TfEI was told they had 24 hours to remove links and quotes or their service would be cut off. They'll be looking for a new provider, one less susceptible to the World's pressure. Chris Medlock writes about it here.

As far as anyone is aware, the World has not sent a similar letter to the Coalition for Responsible Government (CfRG), the campaign to get rid of Medlock and fellow Councilor Jim Mautino, which has, on this web page alone, the full text of 69 articles from the Tulsa World archives.

TulsaNow, the civic organization, has also received the letter, concerning its popular and lively discussion forums. You can read the TulsaNow forum discussion here.

Many, many thanks

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I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the outpouring of support I've received in the 24 hours since I posted the Tulsa World's nastygram and notified friends and acquaintances in the blogosphere. Trackbacks galore (you can find them at the bottom of the original entry), a radio interview with New York talk show host Kevin McCullough (which will run again online at 1:20 a.m., 4:20 a.m., 7:20 a.m., and 10:20 a.m.), a mention on CNN's Inside Politics, many hits on the PayPal tip jar (prompted and led by Michelle Malkin), an Instalanche (size yet to be determined), and many, many supportive e-mails.

There's some big news about to break, having to do with some of the cozy Cockroach Caucus ties I mentioned. I hope to have something I can report on it by mid-morning.

In the meantime, for the first time ever, I'm opening this post up for comments. I reserve the right to remove anything that exceeds the bounds of good taste and politeness, but I want to give you all a chance to weigh in.

Welcome new readers

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Welcome to all of you who've come to read about the legal threats made against this blog by the Tulsa World (or Whirled, as I prefer to call it). You'll find that entry at this link, along with a summary of other blog commentary on the matter.

To give you more of a sense of the mindset of the newspaper, here are two of my recent entries -- a partial rebuttal to an editorial about the Tulsa City Council and an account of a speech by the World's editorial page editor Ken Neal.

I hope you'll take a look around -- BatesLine has a focus on local news in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but I also write about world news, national politics, city planning, right-to-life and other cultural issues, and faith, all from a Christian and conservative perspective, with a bit of whimsy thrown in from time to time.

World vs. Whirled?

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The BatesLine stylebook, such as it is, decrees that the monopoly daily newspaper in Tulsa be consistently called the Tulsa Whirled. I am bending that rule during the course of the present controversy for the sake of those who may be Googling for information, using the paper's legal name. I will still work in the occasional reference to the Whirled, just so I don't get used to typing it the other way. It's really a better fit. "It's a new Whirled every morning...."

Today on CNN's Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff, the legal threat to this blog from the Tulsa World made the "Inside Blogs" segment of the show. Here's a link to the show transcript -- the blogs segment is about 1/3 of the way down. The segment featured CNN blog reporter Jacki Schechner and Washington Post media critic Howie Kurtz. Schechner says the story has been "rising all day" in the blogs, and particularly mentions Wizbang's Kevin Aylward, who published the letter he sent to World VP John R. Bair, author of the nastygram.

I liked Howie Kurtz's take on the World's threat:

It sounds like [Bair]'s saying nice little site you got here, it would be a shame if anything happened to it. But, you know, if this blogger is really just picking up bits and pieces from the biggest newspaper in Oklahoma's capital [sic], and putting his own comments on it, everybody does that these days.

I do that every day on WashingtonPost.com. I provide the links. Other news organizations like that because it drives traffic to their sites.

Schechner concluded by saying, "Well, that's what they were saying, that he's linking. And really that's not infringement or anything. So we'll keep an eye on it and see if this gets any bigger."

UPDATE (3/10/2006): CNN.com still has the transcripts to the BatesLine mentions on Inside Politics:

February 15, 2005
February 16, 2005
February 18, 2005

I'll be on the air today at 1:20 p.m. Central Time with New York City radio talk show host (and friend) Kevin McCullough. You can listen live online, or hear the repeats every three hours for the next 24 by clicking on the "Listen" icon on the right-hand side of Kevin's blog.

Kevin writes:

A blog swarm may be necessary to let TULSA WORLD (insert Griswold joke here) know that they may be a relatively unimportant voice in the editorial of the world - but that's no excuse for their shoddy, immoral, and repugnant behavior towards BatesLine or any other blogger. ...

It's possible that TULSA WORLD has had their head in the sand for the last four months while bloggers decapitated CBS and CNN but if this piddly, sad, excuse of a newspaper wants to be next in line for a can of whoop-blog, they are off to a great start...

Be sure to tune in early and keep listening after to hear more of Kevin's show.

NOTE to those of you who normally skip the Tulsa stuff here: Please read this entry. This is not just about the sordid little world of Tulsa politics. This is the old media trying to intimidate their critics in the new media into silence. It has repercussions for any blogger engaged in media criticism. It strikes at the heart of what blogs do. I'd appreciate your help in putting the blogosphere's spotlight of shame on this legal threat.

Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock wasn't the only one to get a special valentine from our friends at the Tulsa Whirled. The Vice-President [sic] of the Tulsa World has threatened legal action against me for "reproduc[ing] (in whole or in part) articles and/or editorials" and for "inappropriately link[ing my] website to Tulsa World content." ("World" is the legal name, although here at BatesLine we call it the Whirled, in the spirit of Private Eye's renaming of the Guardian as the Grauniad.)

Here's the actual letter (click to enlarge):

Here's the text of the letter:

Dear Mr. Bates:

I am writing on behalf of World Publishing Company, publisher of the Tulsa World. We have recently learned that your website, www.Batesline.com, has reproduced (in whole or in part) articles and/or editorials from the Tulsa World newspaper or has inappropriately linked your website to Tulsa World content.

The Tulsa World copyrights its entire newspaper and specifically each of the articles and/or editorials at issue. The reproduction of any articles and/or editorials (in whole or in part) on your website or linking your website to Tulsa World content is without the permission of the Tulsa World and constitutes an intentional infringement of the Tulsa World's copyright and other rights to the exclusive use and distribution of the copyrighted materials.

Therefore, we hereby demand that you immediately remove any Tulsa World material from your website, to include unauthorizedlinks to our website, and cease and desist from any further use or dissemination of our copyrighted content. If you desire to use (in whole or in part) any of the content of our newspaper, you must first obtain written permission before that use. If you fail to comply with his demand, the Tulsa World will take whatever legal action is necessary to assure compliance, Additionally, we will pursue all other legal remedies, including seeking damages that may have resulted as a result of this infringement.

We look forward to your immediate response and cooperation in this matter. Please acknowledge your compliance by signing below and returning to me.

Sincerely,

(signed)
John R. Bair
Vice-President [sic]
Tulsa World

As I wrote regarding the same letter sent to Councilor Medlock, excerpting copyrighted material for the purpose of criticism is covered by the fair use exemption, and linking to content cannot be a copyright violation because nothing is actually copied. The threat is empty, an attempt at using intimidation to silence my criticism of their editorials and news coverage.

Why would a big ol' daily paper, with over 100,000 daily circulation, send a nastygram like this to someone who gets about 1,000 visits a day? And why now? Here's a little background, especially for you out-of-towners:

The Tulsa World has been the only daily newspaper in town since September 30, 1992, when its publisher refused to renew its half-century-old Joint Operating Agreement with the Tulsa Tribune then bought the Tribune and shut it down.

The World is more than just an observer of the local scene. It is an integral part of the tight social network that has run local politics for as long as anyone can remember. This network, which I have dubbed the Cockroach Caucus, has pursued its own selfish interests under the name of civic progress, with disastrous results for the ordinary citizens of Tulsa and its metropolitan area. The World, and the way it wields its influence in the community, bears a strong resemblance to the Dacron Republican-Democrat, the fictional subject of the National Lampoon Sunday Newspaper Parody.

The Cockroach Caucus is most recently infamous for convincing state and local elected officials to pour $47 million in public funds into Great Plains Airlines. This airline promised to provide non-stop jet service between Tulsa and the coasts, but in the end was not much more than the Mrs. Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Co. It went bankrupt, leaving local taxpayers liable for millions in loan guarantees. Many leading lights of the Cockroach Caucus, including World Publishing Company, were investors in Great Plains Airlines.

The Cockroach Caucus has wasted tens of millions in public funds on failed economic development strategies, at a time when tens of thousands of Tulsa high-tech workers had lost their jobs, ignored the plight of small business, and has bent and sometimes broken the rules of the land use planning system to favor those with political and financial connections. The same small number of connected insiders circulates from one city authority, board, or commission to another, controlling city policy, but beyond the reach of the democratic process.

Many people in this city are fed up with the World and its allies. For the first time, in Tulsa's March 2004 municipal elections, Tulsa's voters elected a bipartisan majority of councilors who were not endorsed by the newspaper, five councilors committed to reforming city government so that it serves the interests of all Tulsans, not just a favored few. Alternative media outlets played a significant role in helping these reform councilors get their message out and win election -- principally, Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ; the Tulsa Beacon, a conservative weekly newspaper; and this blog. These same sources continue to subject the World's content to critical review on a daily basis. Now all three of us have received some sort of threatening letter from the World.

The empire is striking back. Leading a broader Cockroach Caucus effort, the World has engaged in a sustained campaign in its news pages and editorial pages against the reformers, painting them in the worst possible light. Two of the five-member Reform Alliance majority on the Council, Republicans Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, have been targeted for recall from office by a shadowy group calling itself the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004. No criminal wrongdoing or negligence is alleged -- they are being targeted because they have voted the "wrong way". They have pursued reforms and investigations that the Cockroach Caucus seems to find threatening to its interests. (The Coalition for Responsible Government used copyrighted World photographs and articles in the Tulsa Tribunal, crypto-racist smear tabloids targeting Mautino and Medlock, but have apparently faced no similar threats from the World.)

The deadline for the submission of recall petitions is this week. I believe the World is hoping to silence alternative low-budget media voices as the recall campaign proper gets underway, so as to create a clear channel for the pro-recall campaign, which will continue to have the tacit support of the World alongside a massive paid-media campaign.

I am not concerned for myself. I believe I have respected the World's copyrights within the fair-use exemption. Let the World name the specific articles in which it alleges that I have exceeded fair use. I have violated no law by directing readers to the Tulsa World's own website to read the Tulsa World's own content as the World itself presents it. I am seeking legal advice for dealing with the matter.

The World deserves the scorn and ridicule of the blogosphere for using bullying tactics against its critics. Let's give it to 'em.

TRACKBACKS: Thanks to fellow bloggers who are showing their support. Click on the links to read all that they have to say on the matter.

Joe Carter of evangelical outpost asks "Did someone at the WPC lose their mind? ... It takes a special brand of idiot to bully a guy with a megaphone. But you have to be a world class moron to push someone around who has thousands of compatriots with megaphones."

Ace writes "the next phase in this battle [between new and old media] is nonstop legal harassment. They've had a monopoly for 50 years and they're not giving it up without a fight... or at least without calling in their lawyers."

Kevin of the Primary Main Objective knows the World and says they're worthy of contempt rather than pity.

Matt of Nerf-Coated World provides some guidelines for bloggers on fair use.

Scott Sala of Slant Point asks "Does the paper intend to only sell its news to those who like what it has to say? Will conversations on the street condeming the paper now be monitored, and those individuals barred from buying future copies?"

Dan Lovejoy calls the World a "fossilized fecolith of the dinomedia."

Charles G. Hill gets to the heart of the local political situation and the World's part in it:

If it weren't so pathetic, it would almost be tragic. There are many cities like Tulsa, where a favored few seek to maximize their profits at the expense of everyone else; what makes Tulsa different is the World, which evidently would rather be a conspirator than a crusader. The people of Tulsa are the poorer for it.

Top-ten blogger and columnist Michelle Malkin reacts to the World's attack: "Can you spell U-N-H-I-N-G-E-D?" And she hit my PayPal tip jar! Thanks!

Thanks to all of my "compatriots with megaphones." Watch this space as more bloggers pick up the story.

UPDATE 9:14 AM: Ironically, I didn't link to the Tulsa World's website anywhere in this entry. That was unintentional (subconsciously trying to protect myself?) but I've fixed it with a link up near the top. Wouldn't want anyone thinking I'm scared.

UPDATE: You'll find a quick intro about this site and me via this link.

UPDATE (12/28/2005): Here is the category archive of all entries related to the Tulsa World.

Given the entry I'm about to post and other blogosphere-old-media confrontations that have been in the news in the last week or so, I've decided that the topic de la semaine for the Okie Blogger Bash Consortium will be newspapers. Entries are due by midnight Friday night / Saturday morning.

In today's column, Michael Barone writes that we now know how the Internet will impact American politics, and it seems to be good for the Republicans.

Best blogs for breaking news

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A couple of weeks ago, Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno asked me to compile a list of five to ten top, must-read blogs. That's difficult, because the best blogs at any given moment vary with the hot story of the moment, based on which bloggers are in the best position to cover the story.

For example, when the Ukraine election drama was in progress, the best sources for information were Le Sabot Post-Moderne and TulipGirl, a pair of blogs run by an American couple who live in Kiev, blogs that most of the time focus on theology and family life. During the election crisis, they provided on-the-scene original reporting, links to local news sources, links to pronouncements from the government and the political parties, and links to other bloggers covering the same story.

To find out which blogs are covering the hot stories, you can go to certain key blogs that are frequently updated with links to breaking news. These are the Energizer Bunnies of the blog world, and you can expect to see at least a dozen posts a day.

The Command Post is actually a group of topic-driven blogs on Iraq, the War on Terror, elections and politics, among others. It has a large number of contributors, and it seeks to go in-depth on the few topics it covers.

Redstate.org has its main blog, plus lots of "member diaries", from which the best entries are promoted to the main blog.

Some old media outlets have their own group blogs, where any editor or regular contributor to the magazine is able to post to the blog. Because so many people participate, you get exposure to a variety of topics, plus some interesting commentary and debate:

Not a group blog, and updated only once a day, is OpinionJournal.com's Best of the Web Today. It's a good source for the hot stories of the last 24 hours.

To find out who's blogging about a particular story or topic, go to Technorati, a blog search service. Enter a keyword or phrase, and you'll get a list of blog entries on the topic, most recent first.

In a future entry, I'll tell you about some specialist blogs -- individuals and groups that focus on a key issue.

Disclaimer: I will not vouch for everything that these bloggers write, but I believe them to be diligent and generally reliable. You may occasionally find offensive content, but the same goes for the rest of the Internet, TV, radio, newspapers, the backs of cereal boxes, etc. Viewer discretion advised.

Blogosphere prayer requests

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Please say a prayer for Marcia Morrissey, wife of Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters -- she's in the hospital tonight for a pancreas transplant. I met Ed during the Republican National Convention -- a great guy. He has risen to the top of the blog world by being consistently there with the big news. He's set up to blog from the hospital, but we'll all understand if he slacks off for a while.

Kevin McCullough asks for prayers for his wife's mom, who is undergoing tests to see if cancer has returned after nine years in remission.

Aaauuugh!!!!

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Lesson of the day: Save your work frequently and do not go back and forth between editors with different keyboard shortcuts. I just managed to kill a lengthy post, which I was just about to publish, by using an Emacs command (Ctrl-W -- meaning, cut region) in a Mozilla window (where it means close tab, destroying all my work in the process).

This week's Oklahoma Blogger Bash Consortium entries on childhood diseases are in:

John Butler has passed the baton to me. I'll think about a topic for this week and announce it here Monday evening.

UPDATE: Charles Hill has posted his submission.

Dawn's side now

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Five days after Women's Wear Daily printed outright lies about her dismissal from the New York Post, blogger Dawn Eden's side of the story is out in today's New York Observer (the February 14, 2005, edition). George Gurley's interview of Dawn Eden, "Eden in Exile," is online here. Not only does it tell her side of what led to her dismissal from the Post, but it is also a comprehensive profile of her life and worldview.

The tension between her faith and the culture of what is perceived to be the "conservative paper" in New York is illustrated by her boss's reaction to a magazine interview:

The Post hired her full time in 2003. She loved editing and writing punning headlines. But she landed in hot water after giving an interview to Gilbert, a G.K Chesterton magazine, in which she talked about her faith and working at the Post.

She said her boss, chief copy editor Barry Gross, chided her, telling her, "Some people already think the Post is conservative, and we donít need New York readers also thinking itís a Christian paper and that there are Christians working there."

It's hard to imagine that there can be a part of America where Christianity is so marginalized.

There's no doubt in my mind that it was Dawn's dogged exposure of Planned Parenthood and its ilk that magnified a minor matter into her firing, which speaks volumes about the true values of the New York Post and the Murdoch empire.

I'm sure Dawn will fill in the pieces of the story that were left out in days to come.

UPDATE: Dawn has posted her initial comments and corrections on the story. The comments from readers make for interesting reading, too.

MORE: Saint Kansas links to an LA Times story which reminds us that in some countries the consequences for blogging your mind can be a lot worse than losing your job. (The link comes at the end of this funny and pointed Saint Kansas entry, on tolerance and diversity and the We Are Family Foundation.)

MORE COMMENT ELSEWHERE:

Kevin McCullough believes Dawn has a case for wrongful termination, and he helpfully supplies e-mail addresses and phone numbers if you want to give a piece of your mind to those responsible for her firing.

Gawker thinks profile writer George Gurley is smitten. (Not hard to understand, if he is.)

Wes isn't surprised that Dawn was let go, and explains why.

UPDATE 2006/05/03: Replaced the link to the Observer's main site with a link to the archived version.

I just found a brand new blog called NOTES, written by Bowden McElroy, a fellow Tulsan, Christian therapist, and sometime pastor.

I have just started perusing his site. He has collected a list of other bloggers' entries on Christian counseling and plans to begin a dialogue by responding to them. His first in the series is on the biological basis for behavior.

This is going to be fascinating reading.

He was kind enough to link to BatesLine as one of the blogs he reads regularly. He paid me a wonderful compliment: Although he's a little burned out on politics, he finds BatesLine "refreshing." Thanks a million!

During our weekly visit, Michael DelGiorno of KFAQ asked me to put together a list of five to ten blogs you ought to be reading every day. One blog that will be on that list is Little Green Footballs, which specializes in covering the the spread, influence, and activity of the Islamofascist movement around the world. LGF was one of the blogs that inspired me to start my own back in May 2003.

The New York Sun has profiled Charles Johnson, the man behind LGF. Read the profile and learn how 9/11 drove a pony-tailed musician and web designer to become a relentless tracker of the enemies of Western Civilization.

(Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Blogosphere category from February 2005.

Blogosphere: January 2005 is the previous archive.

Blogosphere: March 2005 is the next archive.

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