Sunday, July 10, 2011

Media Muddle: Sad Shermy Righthaven Edition!

For reasons nobody can explain, the disgraced former publisher of Nevada's largest newspaper continues to write columns and to blog for the R-J, the newspaper whose circulation and reputation he trashed and that faces years of litigation ahead on account of how he and his minions botched their efforts to protect their copyrights.

Still, that he continues to have a voice is worthwhile for delicious moments like this. Today, he wrote about some cheating scandal eight states away that he believes indicts public school education.

This is fun stuff. Sad Shermy, he of the creative but self-sabotaged copyright-enforcing jihad, reprinted three long paragraphs of his Sunday column's source material, an article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in providing the background of the cheating scandal. Didn't Righthaven, aka the R-J, sue others for that? Why yes, they did!

Sad Shermy may argue Fair Use, except that he's not commenting on the quality of the piece or the writing as, say, I just do down below. He could have just as easily, were he not lazy as hell, paraphrased the facts of the case himself. He found it more convenient to rip off another writer's reporting and work. What's more, check this out:

That's a screenshot from his column online. What's missing above? Oh! That's right! A link to the original report. You know, something almost every Righthaven defendant did provide.

But wait, there's more! On the R-J's site right now under this very piece, a commenter has left this:

See that? Righthaven, aka the Review-Journal, has also sued websites for allowing commenters to post lengthy passages of R-J stories. Here the R-J allowed "Jack Webb" to post 228 words of a 539-word blog item by Alex Pareene of Salon.Com with no commentary, nothing to reflect fair use. And remember, there are editors at the who approve or reject comments. They have made a legal case that website purveyors are responsible for everything, including the copyright violations committed by their readers.

Where, oh where, is Steve Gibson of Righthaven when he's needed? Oh, that's right. Preparing for depositions about whether he and Sad Shermy misled the courts about who owns the rights to the material Righthaven sued over. Natch.

* * *

On a vaguely related but terrifically entertaining note, that same column was Shermy's chance to cackle over the education system today. And yet, try to spot the not-so-tiny mistake:

Remember, folks, this is a piece about education. Someone -- probably not Sad Shermy! -- corrected that rather egregious misspelling online, which is why the dead-tree version still has its merits. Web readers must have left comments mocking the error, but editors chose not to approve them on account of that it makes Sherm Frederick look foolish and undercuts his moral authority as an expert on the results of that old-school education system he graduated from back in the '50s or whenever. If this hadn't been in print, I'm quite sure Sad Shermy would deny he had made such a fundamental spelling error in the first place.

But here's the best part. Look way up at the first screenshot there. Oh, OK, look at it here:

I doublechecked and, yes, in print Sad Shermy also spelled "principal" correctly in the portion where he cut-and-pasted passages to save himself the bother of paraphrasing the very premise of his column. In other words, he didn't even re-read what he put in his own piece or he at least would have noticed his own spelling error or, worse, ignorantly changed it in the AJC version. He just hit CTL-V and then went on from there, bloviating and doing what his good friend, ex-RJ editor Thomas Mitchell, once called "chew[ing] up the intellectual property of others and spit[ting] out their cuds."


Dan Short said...

What the old saying? The principal is your "pal".

Not this time.


Steve Stern said...

You've made some interesting and, I think, remarkably inciteful and valid assessments, analyses, etc. Yet, what remains wholly behind the kimono is the "Why?" It's just incomprehensible to me that Stephens continues to fund this, which I assume it does, especially at a time when the newspaper industry (of course, this assumes it actually part of that industry), continues to fund this.

As for Sherm, well, perhaps he just defines "pathetic."

Personally, I think the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame should eject him. Considering the quality of his writing and reporting in the past, one has to wonder if he got in because of tenure as opposed to talent.

Anonymous said...

your blog is not quite accurate

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Anon: I don't care what the TOS says. I've known plenty of people whose comments were not approved, including my own. Are you surprised this newspaper might unevenly apply its own policy? Really?

Anonymous said...

i don't argue that the policy may APPEAR to be unevenly applied. however, it is much more about the lack of manpower to properly manage the system versus any concentrated effort to block particular people from commenting or comments from being made on certain topics (as long as those comments don't violate the TOS). if you ever have a comment that you feel has been blocked, i would suggest that you send an email to the webmaster asking for an explanation rather than just assuming that they have it in for you. tell your friends to do the same. there could be a perfectly reasonable and innocent explanation. of course that is not as much fun.

Anonymous said...

Trust me when I say that you are not the only one wondering why Sherm Frederick continues to have access to the R-J's platforms and audience after being bounced from his job for precisely the reasons you've stated. Many employees continue to wonder the same exact thing.