I’m not the only blog-reporter upset with the St. Petersburg Times and the way it interacts with the online community. Last week, I shared a drink at St. Pete Brasserie with Elizabeth Dougherty of Eat St. Pete and Brian Bailey of I Love the ‘burg. Both talked about something I have complained about for over a year: The Times‘ blatant thievery of scoops and stories that begin in the blogosphere.
Dougherty specifically mentioned how the Times’ food writers made no mention of her in their stories about social networking saving Bowled and St. Pete Brasserie, even though it was Dougherty who led the online effort to infuse these two restaurants with a burst of business from her readers. Bailey has previously talked to me about how the Times will simply take a story they had no way of knowing about, re-write it and publish it as their own. Case in point, he says, was the St. Pete Police’s sweep of Club Sinn. Bailey was sent a photo of the incident, which he published on his website and two days later, lo and behold, the story shows up in the Times.
I’ve been complaining about the Times taking my stories, “re-reporting” them and publishing them a few days later with no mention of where the story started, even though they often do so in the online edition. The latest example was my story about the organizers of St. Pete Pride canceling their contract with ClearChannel over the billboard company’s decision not to run gay-friendly artwork on their signs. The story was on my site for 24 hours and was picked up by some of the nation’s most prominent gay publications. I actually tipped off several local TV reporters about the story, who linked back to my original story. But not the St. Pete Times, who didn’t steal my words, but certainly stole my idea. The worst of it was when the reporter on the story emailed me to say “Nice scoop.”
As for today’s edition, the front page is jam-packed with must-reads. Tops on that list is the story about the Tampa Bay Rays search for a new stadium location. It’s great to see David DeCamp bylined on this story because this is no longer a St. Pete story, it’s becoming a Pinellas story. Maybe DeCamp can take over the defunct blog, Ballpark Frankness, that Aaron Sharockman used to write about the Rays off-the-field issues.
DeCamp has got a well-written, but atrociously-themed piece about Charlie Justice calling out Bill Young over Young’s son marrying an office staffer. I’ll post later about why I think Charlie has crossed the line, so make sure you read this article. The response from Bill Young is worth the read.
A reader zinged me for criticizing Ernest Hooper week in and week out. Are they right? I don’t know. All I do know is that in today’s edition Hooper offers up some lame analysis criticizing gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott because “it appears he’s looking at the camera, not at where’s he’s going.” Seriously, that is Hooper’s critique! That is what he chooses to write about on his Page 1 on the Tampa Bay section column. About a candidate not watching the road during the filming of a commercial. Not about Scott’s role in a multi-billion dollar fraud case, or his rise in the polls, or what his candidacy means for the state.
How can I not continue to criticize Hooper? Well, at least he doesn’t steal my stories.