We subscribe to the near-local coupon clipper, aka The Winston-Salem Journal (hereafter abbreviated as WSJ). Small town paper it may be, but it is firmly embedded in the
ass crevice niche commonly referred to as the “Mainstream Media”.
I have commented on articles (through their chosen online medium – Facebook) for some time under my real name with no repercussions. But lately, I got froggy, and decided to create a Facebook page called “Winston-Salem Journal Watchdog”, mostly to segment that particular set of posts, such that those friends who wanted them could have them, and those friends who couldn’t care less weren’t burdened with them. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
I ‘borrowed’ the WSJ logo and printed “Watchdog” over it, to use as my profile picture [not shown here for reasons which will become obvious], and I named the page “Winston-Salem Journal Watchdog“.
Not too much later, I got a message from
Jason P. Snyder
Intellectual Property Manager
BH Media Group Inc.
‘reaching out to me’ to advise that
“[n]o written permission has been granted to use the Winston-Salem Journal’s name and logo in this manner” and further advising me that “I [Jason, that is] am authorized to act on behalf of the Winston-Salem Journal to protect its intellectual property.”
Okay, I sort of understand. Without getting into the highly controversial nature of “intellectual property”, I can see why the WSJ would want to make sure that I do not speak for them, and that use of their logo might lead
unthinking low-information average readers to believe that they were reading pithy comments from WSJ staff. I did, however balk a little at their name being intellectual property that could not be used (though I believe I have correctly deciphered their actual intent).
And so, I replied:
“I have replied to your oblique request, in spite of my objections, in the interest of polite opposition. I would, however, be curious to know if the city granted permission to BH Media Group to use their “intellectual property” – i.e. “Winston-Salem”. Oh, and how the word “journal”, ubiquitous in common usage, could be considered your group’s intellectual property. But I suppose I beg the question, even as I think you also do. Regardless, I hope you’re satisfied with my changes. Keep calm and lawyer on.”
I changed the name of the page to “Winston-Salem ‘Urinal’ Watchdog“, and changed the profile picture to this:
And so, all was well in the kingdom.
I made comments on several articles – all cogent, well-reasoned and structured, polite, on point, and not the least bit derogatory … except perhaps by implication, I suppose. After all, the point was to criticize the way the paper presents their own distorted view of what is news, what is important, and what is the ground truth.
Apparently, that (or the Urinal reference – hardly original, that) or something else, kept the fire ants stirred up. In less than 24 hours, all of my comments had been ‘disappeared’. As near as I can tell, mine were the only ones missing. Since I seriously doubt that I represented much of a threat to the stink bugs of the newsroom, I have to conclude that this was a prime example of an alleged bastion of free speech using their super-villain abilities to quash the still small voice of the Watchdog.
If I thought I’d had any effect, I’d be proud. But, as it is, I think it’s just another sign of the times (which, not coincidentally, is the name of my other Facebook page, which is not nearly as polite but which hasn’t drawn the ire of those who hang around the Urinal.
Sign of the Times: https://www.facebook.com/LiberTarHeel?ref=hl
My Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JCTaylor48
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UPDATE: after my comments as the new and improved Watchdog were deleted, I made several comments under my own name, pointing out that the Watchdog would like to comment on the referenced article, but the WSJ was deleting the Watchdog’s posts. All the posts under my own name to that effect were also immediately deleted. Free speech, my asterisk! Firsthand evidence that all mainstream media “news” is micro managed, even in sleepy little Southern college towns with big city aspirations.
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UPDATE (April 13, 2013): I am now banned from submitting comments on WSJ articles, either as myself or as my “Watchdog” page. I only wish I had the resources and/or allies to fight this.