Thousands upon thousands of people have closely followed an incident involving WHAS11 and Page One/The ‘Ville Voice over alleged copyright infringement. (Yes, we’re surprised by the sheer numbers.) On October 25th someone at WHAS11 wrongly filed a complaint with YouTube which resulted in the removal of video excerpts our media operation was using for purposes of important discussion and criticism, protected by federal Fair Use laws.
It turns out this is a case of much ado about very little. That’s not to diminish its importance. After a meeting last week, WHAS agreed to allow the videos to reappear on YouTube. We agreed to do a better job of linking to their website when we post their videos.
To recap, on November 7th the mainstream media jumped on our story. Louisville Eccentric Observer ran a feature news story about our battle for the freedom of speech in new media. We welcomed and encouraged the publicity. We love publicity. Any news is good news – that’s us.
The problem, as we understand it, was that our video excerpts were attracting a significant audience, web viewers that some at the station believed could have been watching the same video directly through WHAS11.com. We’re all competing for eyeballs on the web, so in their eyes we were a threat. And, one of our videos (like this McConnell story, for instance) did attract more than 22,000 views. So they were probably right to be concerned. Of course, a closer look at the traffic statistics shows that about 65% of our readership comes from outside the Louisville media market– not WHAS11’s core.
We’re not sure if the LEO story was the catalyst for resolution, but we were quickly invited to a meeting with WHAS11’s new President and General Manager, Mark Pimentel, shortly after the paper hit newsstands. We met in his office last Friday.
That brings us to today.
There’s no other way to say this: Mark Pimentel has his proverbial ducks in a row, and a solid background in journalism. He is uniquely equipped to bring the station back from the depths of the Bob Klingel/Aaron Ramey news era. He’s filled the news director slot with Genie Garner, whose reputation as a solid journalist who embraces the Internet bodes well. We like that. The station seems ready to reclaim the high ground in news. In other words, no more live coverage of pot-roast fires. (Woah, we’re being positive– something that rarely happens with us bitchy critics.)
He chose his words carefully in our meeting, but there’s no mistaking that he’s aware of the chaos that preceded his arrival. It’s too bad the station lost so many solid reporters and anchors in the last year, but expect the exodus to slow now that there’s a professional in charge.
That said, WHAS is making it a point to welcome criticism. The station is doing the right thing.
We’re pleased to report that as of 6:07 P.M. last evening all video is restored and we’re once again in full swing. Mission accomplished. Free speech prevails. We look forward to continuing our working relationship with all media outlets in Kentucky. And we hope this now-passed and unfortunate dust-up with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act serves as a sticking point for old and new media alike when it comes to happily coexisting.