Mason County Press Lashes Out At Local Radio Stations For Stealing News

While scrolling through Facebook this afternoon I came across this tidbit. Seems the local radio stations have gotten so lazy when it comes to local news that they can't do any research of their own and simply use the MCP as their news source. This might of been okay if they would at the very least recognize where they are getting the news stories from but to out and out just take it, well, that ain't right and Rob Alway has a right to be mad.

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, has been posting photographs taken by Mason County Press and Oceana County Press, and then posting them on its 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 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 house fire that we covered.

All the local radio stations frequently site our news stories when they read their local broadcast. 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 county. 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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Dave, I wonder if Rob Alway believes you violated copyright law by posting his whole article here? 

From my research, if you are running a news service and balk at people recanting your articles, you've got an uphill battle to show copyright laws or your 'intellectual property' rights have been broken, especially in this copy-and-paste world.  'Fair use' provisions come into play, and Rob's efforts to show the two Synergy stations are doing unlawful things is provocative and thought-provoking but has fallen far from being a legal proof of it happening. 

What I find most distressing about Mr. Alway's diatribe is that he paints with a very wide brush in attempting to make his point.  He uses the phrases:  "I am writing a public letter to the owners of this area’s radio stations and putting them on notice", "All the local radio stations frequently site [sic] our news stories when they read their local broadcast", "we are asking that the local radio stations publicly apologize to us for stealing our intellectual property."   To my knowledge and belief, WMOM (for example) uses its own news reporters.  I see them at many public meetings, and their angle is uniquely their own; when they have used MCP material on their broadcasts, they will cite that fact plainly.

The Synergy stations may be taking undue liberties with the material, but the MCP may be better taking that opinion of theirs and seeing whether it really has a legal basis, rather than slandering them and other radio stations in the area in the process.  I find it hard to find Rob Alway taking the high ground on ethical conduct when he routinely writes about Scottville politics with a very favorable lighting arrangement on officials without telling his readers he serves as the Chairman of the Scottville Planning Commission. 

"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."  Megalomania much, Rob.

I thought about that when thinking about posting this... I came to the conclusion that by offering the link to the story and being fairly clear of what the post was regarding/who it was from, that I don't believe that it would be taken as such... if it is though, I would take down the story part and just supply the link to the story instead.

You are offering his article up as a point of discussion, with no thought of taking any credit for it, or getting any financial gain for providing it.  I would be willing to believe that Rob could make the case for Synergy using his news articles and photos indiscriminately, but he surely didn't make a good legal argument in his article, and he appears to have circumvented the gentleman's way of solving the issue, talking directly to the alleged perpetrator of news-filching. 

I know that's the way, because the consummate gentleman, Willy, agrees with me.  You have done nothing wrong, Dave, and I will defend anybody here or even at Synergy Media if Rob comes after you with his pigeon laws.

Maybe Rob should do some investigative reporting on issues that don't get reported (other then on The Torch) and get them out there for everyone to see. Then MCP would stand out, especially since local media is too scared and/or too lazy to report it.

I think Rob must have ate some of the leftover Christmas ham that got tainted, since he is now thinking somehow that criminal charges apply to the news-burglars.  Jayson Funk's reply is classic.  Start paying for that news you're stealing, Jayson, LOL, or Kim will come over with a forensic kit and take your lunch money if you have any MCP visits in your history. 

This is almost as ridiculous as Rob standing at that one Scottville city council meeting, totally out of order, and expressing his feelings about Commissioner Hahn and his facts (check out 43 minutes into this video).  But it should give you a better feeling of what Rob has morphed into after doing an admirable job for years of news-gathering.

Good points X. Why would Alway publicly berate the radio stations before trying to correct this situation legally. A letter to the stations explaining that they violated [possibly] copyright laws should have sufficed. Ranting on a public media is unprofessional in my opinion. I like Brad's idea. Why doesn't Alway investigate the real news on what local governments are up to just as X does on the Torch. We all know the answer to that. I have no respect for the local media because of the hands off policy they have adopted toward local politicians and businesses, that includes Alway.

You make a lot of influential and important friends being a propaganda miller, you make a lot of influential and important enemies being an investigative reporter who confronts and reports on those who act inappropriately.  Guess what most reporters do nowadays. 

And now, Rob Alway wants to get more than just credit from radio stations for using his pabulum news, who take 'money from his pocket'.  "Pay up and kneel before the God of Mason County news".  Oh, please.

What's the difference between Alway thinking he should get something for all his work typing up the news than a made up organization thinking they have the rights to high school foot ball broadcast

The MCP stole my news just earlier today!!!  I let the COLDNews know that Nashville MI broke Ludington's world record on December 13th, noting that on January 1st, after they still were under the presumption that we still had the record for largest ice cream dessert.  The MCP waited a few days and today reported that very fact without even citing their source.  That bumpkin stole the news I thieved from the Nashville Route 66 Business District. 

Don't make me send an invoice for the royalties, Robber Alway!  LOL.

And now the appropriately named COLDNews stole their cold news from the Mason County Press, nearly five hours later.  "Is this for real?"  Sure is, and has been real for nearly a month, Becky Cain.

They have every right to be angry and protect their copyrights.  As a long time blogger, I have had plenty of people use my trademark and my copyrights and have had to protect my work.  It is stealing and it is very lazy. 

Trademarks and copyrights are one thing, but nobody owns a trademark or copyright on the news, particularly when they share it freely, as the MCP does.  I respect, and would hope others would respect, the notice you put out on the home page of the I Have a Notion which warns folks: 

Please Ask First

If you would like to use my words, ideas or photos please write to and request use. The words, ideas and images belong to me unless otherwise stated and I appreciate your thoughtfulness in respecting my request.


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