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Friday, October 22, 2004

The Oregonian goes underground

This election season is getting weirder and weirder. Now The Oregonian, which recently out-ed David Wu for his assault on his college girlfriend 25 years ago, is asking his opponent for Congress, Goli Ameri, to stop quoting The O's story on the subject.

"We strongly object to the use of our reporting in any political advertisement, particularly in attack ads, which by nature are meant to inflame rather than inform," Sandy Rowe, editor of The Oregonian, said in comments published in Friday's edition of the newspaper.

I am not making this up. The Oregonian now says it doesn't want to be quoted in any political ad.

How totally, utterly bizarre. Hey, Sandy, just what did you think was going to happen?

Comments (11)

There's an old question we used to use (at a former job) to determine whether a course of action we were about to take was appropriate or not: What if what you're about to do ends up on the front page of the Oregonian tomorrow? It tended to cut through the crap and clarify things pretty quickly.

The Oregonian itself should have used a variant of this question (should use in the future, too, I spose): what if the article becomes the sole piece of evidence in an attack campaign?

Woulda save the O a lot of grief to have asked that BEFORE running the Wu piece.

Considering the News Flash said she reproduced the ENTIRE article without permission, she's in violation of copyright law big time.

So is the entire Oregonian endorsement list copyrighted, too? Does that mean if you vote the straight Oregonian-endorsed ticket, you're guilty of copyright infringement?

That's just a hypothetical question, since I'm sure no one is so out of touch with reality as to actually vote the straight Oregonian-endorsed ticket.

If you were to copy the endorsement list and redistribute it in a mailing, yes, that would be a violation. Clipping it out and going down your own ballot would be fine. But stupid, as you say.

After much investigation I have found the email address for Goli Ameri.


Let her and Hap know what you think.

There are no accidents in politics. Timing is everything.

I've seen the TV version of the ads. They've been running on the KGW 11:00 news all week. They quote about four passages -- maybe 40 words total. On the screen is just text, no pictures and no voice-over, but there's this scary doomsday music in the background.

I don't think copyright is the issue. Besides, what would The Oregonian's damages be?

The Big O could maybe go for statutory copyright damages (sense lost profits aren't really an issue).

But they could also use copyright to enforce an injunction from use.

But again, WTF did they think would happen? How many direct mail politcal advertisements have you seen over the years that copy parts of newspaper endorsements and articles?

My gut says the newspaper is being disingenuous at best. My largest complaint about The Oregonian has been that it operates not just as gatekeeper but as overlord of news and protector of politicians. As Pulitzer said, "Newspapers should have no friends." The Oregonian has too many and is too protective.

Even this stance is only an extension of that.

They fundamentally misunderstand their role and take to themselves too much power. It is a supreme conceit and it is one of the 'insider' things about Portland I found revolting -- though there is a lot of company, for a lot of reasons, in not liking that newspaper.

I agree The Oregonian's actions are bizarre, however I'm a registered Republican and at first I was turned off by the ad. I wondered if that is the only criterium on which to make a voting choice? Maybe that's enough. Clinton was accused of rape. Would we have voted for him had that information come out prior to the election or would it have mattered? I suspect it wouldn't have changed any minds then and probably not today for Wu! Most people are not one issue voters.
Mover Mike

FWIW, Wu has a new ad out that's a direct response to Ameri's ad, but it doesn't seem have been posted to his campaign site.

It's the boregonian. It's filled with AP wire stories and about once or twice a year they write something themselves. I did like the meth story, actually, that was about the last time I read something interesting in an Oregon publication (WW and Merc included) in the past year or so.

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