You may recall the recent fuss about Dunblane survivors being attacked in the Scottish Sunday Express (that Martin Townsend has yet to get back to me about, despite past assurances that he is not trying to be in any way evasive about any of this).
Well, it looks like the regional versions of tabloids are seeing an sudden upsurge of lazy bastardness and web-nickery with the downturn in the economy. Someone should write a paper on that, but in the meantime, it’s time to kick arse all over again…
The Scottish edition of The Sun has been caught stealing from a cancer sufferer and using material from his online journal out of context and without his permission:
Jamie Ross – Here Comes The Sun: They edited it to within an inch of its life, as if they were hell-bent on whittling it down to the twenty least entertaining and most disjointed words of each blog. It makes me look like an utterly abysmal writer who got in the paper thanks to a dying wish foundation scheme. They put words such as “MOCKED”, “FORCE” and “SILENCE” in huge emboldened letters outwith the main text, presumably for the benefit of the vast majority of Sun readers who can’t read full sentences. They’ve specifically chosen words which make it sound like I’ve been living in a Nazi concentration camp for the past seven months. I may have used these words at some point but, if they really had to summarise seven months of weekly entries in three words, I’d have suggested “TESTICLE”, “BALLS” and “COCK”. They inexplicably used a picture I had never seen in which my eyes are closed. They used a family photograph which I only allowed to be used in The Independent. They made me inadvertently write in the fucking Sun, effectively destroying all the good work that’s gone into my writing CV recently. All of this, need I repeat, without asking me, notifying me, paying me or consulting me.
At one stage the author (and rightful owner of this material), comedian Jamie Ross, submitted a comment under his own story on The Sun’s website – and they deleted it!
(This not only adds insult to injury, it also shows that The Scottish Sun are determined to stand by their unique version of reality, despite what they may claim about wanting to set this right. Like Iain Dale, they are far too precious to let readers know when they’ve made a grievous error.)
Even worse, when Jamie got in touch via email, they offered him the pittance of £300 as payment.
Time will only tell if they have the audacity to declare in their defence that a vulnerable young writer initially accepted these terms; stealing is stealing, damage is damage, and a pittance is a pittance.
(Perhaps someone at News International will cry ‘poor’ after throwing all their money at Jade Goody… who, we can only assume, had a rare form of cancer that stops tabloids from stealing from you. Either that, or we’ve finally arrived at the stage where tabloids can take what they like from you and do what they want with it if you’re not willing to give Max Clifford 15% of the take.)
Jamie advises me that The Scottish Sun have also issued a private apology, but they’ve laid in heavily with the mitigation and tried a few cons in the process (such as claiming that a similar feature being in The Independent gives them the right to steal his content and hack it to bits because it’s “in the public domain”), so I for one doubt their sincerity; people who are sincere typically don’t lie to you during an apology.
Besides, any apology for a public deed should be conducted in public (and given equal if not greater prominence than the stunt that calls for an apology).
Jamie may yet decide to keep/bank the payment that may cover use of the material to some small extenet, but this does nothing to address the harm done to this man and to his reputation by their reordering and repurposing his material in a way that makes him out to be a tabloid hack who is desperate for victim status*.
(*Ironically, judging by the repeated/shameless tabloid thievery I’ve seen over the years, his status as a cancer victim may be the only thing that earns him a proper apology.)
The offer of payment also fails to address the personal photos that they used – without permission – when presenting Jamie’s material out of context.
This is not only a copyright issue, but also one of reputation and harm.
But even The Scottish Sun deserve
a chance to set things right a second chance to set things right.
As we’ve learned in recent weeks, there’s a way of doing these things, and the first order of business is to contact the editor involved so they can initially ignore us, and then issue a few pathetic legal threats.
The details you need appear below, along with a copy of my letter… Round Two to follow:
The Scottish Sun
124 Portman Street
Glasgow G41 1EJ
I am writing to you to demand a public apology (in print) for your disgraceful treatment of Jamie Ross.
That apology should make clear that Jamie’s material was used in your newspaper without permission, edited* without his permission and presented next to personal photos that you did not have permission to use.
(*’Hacked to bits and wanked to the max’ is a better description, but I’ll leave that up to you. You may also wish to apologise for refusing Jamie a right of reply by deleting feedback that he submitted to your website in good faith.)
If I have to explain why this apology is called for, then there really is no hope for you, and we may as well cut straight to the legal threats, because in this open letter (and therefore on my website) I describe you as a shockingly careless editor, if not a manipulative money-grubbing cad, and this – along with the headline ‘David Dinsmore steals from cancer patient’ – will be a top search result for your name in less than an hour.
Make this right. Now.
(Or come and have a go at me because you’re far too precious to apologise. Your call.)