Newspaper commits dogmatic suicide
Expanded from the 5-9-2010 Daily Sparks Tribune
Update 6-8-2010: Las Vegas Sun: Defendants 28 thru 34 sued by Las Vegas Moonhowlers
Barbwire wins second straight Nevada Press Association first-place award
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Be well. Raise hell.
Barbwire column on the depredations of Charter Communications and the Reno City Council wins 2009 Nevada Press Association first-place award
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The social Darwinists at the Las Vegas Review-Journal have pulled a Nixon and are lashing out at their enemies list.
Worse, they are using a vehicle they have always decried, lawsuits.
In case you haven't heard, the state's largest newspaper has been suing organizations they don't like for copyright infringement. The sin which has so sorely aggrieved them consists of (gasp!) posting links to RJ stories at their websites.
The latest outfit to get hit is the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. (Disclosure time: I am the Reno-Sparks NAACP delegate to PLAN.)
On May 4, the RJ sued PLAN and its webmaster for copyright infringement.
The lawsuit will be available with the web edition of this column at NevadaLabor.com. I hope they don't sue me for copyright infringement, even though it's a protected public document.
First and foremost, this damnable legal action is a blatant violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and also of Nevada law against SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation).
Blogger Emily Green noted "what makes (the) lawsuit against PLAN remarkable is that among the exhibits in the complaint is one for posting a story on its website in which PLAN itself was a subject of the article."
So the RJ is suing its own news sources. That's a scary echo of an oft-stated criticism of the U.S. auto industry and other corporate dinosaurs which for the past 30 years have been firing their own customers their employees in a race to the bottom.
At last Thursday's PLAN meeting, founder Bob Fulkerson mused about refusing to talk to RJ reporters.
I advised against it. PLAN needs to talk to the press about its populist issues, including its current statewide petition drive to end the foreign-owned gold mining industry's corporate welfare tax breaks.
Here is a list of offensive defenses which PLAN should consider.
1. TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY. In every future interview, PLAN's representatives should tell RJ reporters upfront that PLAN considers its oral comments and any written documents as proprietary and authorizes use only with a disclaimer that such PLAN intellectual property is copyrighted.
2. TURNABOUT, PART DEUX. File counterclaims for abuse of legal process (using the courts as a pretext to obtain a result not otherwise attainable) and violation of the First Amendment.
3. THE MORE THE MERRIER. PLAN should file a motion asking the court to join other individuals and organizations, such as the uberconservative Nevada Policy Research Institute and the senate campaign of former UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian. Both have liberally linked RJ stories to their sites.
Fulkerson "said officials at the Review-Journal are being hypocritical by regularly complaining in editorials about unnecessary litigation in society and then suing PLAN without first trying to resolve the problem out of court," the Las Vegas Sun reported.
"'If they would have picked up the phone and said, "we have a problem with you posting these stories," we would have obliged them,'" Fulkerson told the Sun.
"Fulkerson said it's doubtful mining industry Web sites would be sued since PLAN believes the R-J is cozy with the mining industry.
"'It appears they're suing groups that don't agree with their political agenda'," Fulkerson added.
Perhaps one case is the most instructive.
The RJ watchdog website lvjournalreview.com stated it well: "(The RJ) also sued Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. CREW is largely responsible for the current legal mess Sen. John Ensign is in. CREW filed the complaints against Ensign that led to the sweeping investigation into the Republican senator's alleged misuse of his office. CREW was never told to take down an RJ story. (Executive Director) Melanie Sloan said she was surprised the paper didn't notify her it had a problem with her use of their stories."
4. HOIST THEM ON THEIR OWN PETARD. Every RJ story encourages readers to e-mail stories to friends and post them on the myriad of social network websites. That alone should be enough to defeat the RJ's claims. They have given the world permission to link their stories in order to build website traffic which they can turn into advertising revenue and maybe (heaven forbid) some new print advertisers and subscribers.
The northern news media the four Sparks-Reno-Carson newspapers and three network TV stations have not published word one about this story and apparently no one has yet noticed the greatest danger signaled by suing not only PLAN but its webmaster.
He is a neutral party, posting only what his client tells him. He's like the phone company, facilitating the medium but not the message. If he can be successfully sued for doing the typing, then no one is safe, including AT&T, Great Basin Internet here in northern Nevada, Yahoo, Google, you or me.
The RJ is run by a bunch of morally obtuse dogmatists who have taken leave of their ethical, moral, professional and business senses.
No less than republican democracy is threatened by their damnable actions.
UPDATE: As of this posting, the Review-Journal itself has failed to report this story.
HELP WANTED. Regular readers know that I have been raising money to help Sierra Nevada Community Access Television fully benefit from a matching foundation grant of $40,000. If you can help with a tax-deductible donation, give me a holler at (775) 882-TALK or drop me a line.
HELP WANTED, PART DEUX. The Reno-Sparks NAACP will hold its annual Freedom Fund Banquet on May 22 at the Peppermill in Reno. For ticket and sponsorship information, go to RenoSparksNAACP.org or contact me. This is important.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 41-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, second vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of NevadaLabor.com. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail email@example.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.
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Phillips, Kevin; Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know
Harper's Magazine; May 2008; page 43
Phillips has authored numerous books on history and politics over the past 40 years. His most recent, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, was published by Viking on April 15, 2008.
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Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate.
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Excerpted from the book available below
ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
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Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
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Copyright © 1982-2010 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 41-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, He is producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as second vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in those parts ever since. Tempus fugit.
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