Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Executive at failing newspaper tries to intimidate local blogger

"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." -
A. J. Liebling

You'd think that the people who run Miami's number one daily newspaper would have enough on their hands just keeping things from imploding at One Herald Plaza. Enough so that they wouldn't have time for much else.

But guess again.

There's one executive at the Herald who's apparently so satisfied that everything is running smoothly that she took some time out of her busy day to fire off a threatening email to Random Pixels over a few Miami Herald photos I posted yesterday.

Suzanne Levinson, whose title is Director of Site Operations for the Miami Herald, sent me an email this morning with the ominous subject line, "Use of Miami Herald photos on your blog‏."

Here's part of her email:
It has been brought to our attention that the web page located at has content reproduced from The Miami Herald and

Please remove these photos and any other Miami Herald content present on your site immediately.
[We] do not allow reproduction of complete stories or full-sized photos.
Please reply with confirmation of action taken within 5 business days or this matter will be forwarded to the McClatchy Company's legal department for further action.

My first reaction was "what took you so long?" My second was to ignore her.

But after thinking about it a bit more I responded that I didn't use full-sized photos; rather I resized them. I also pointed out that because the post was meant as a parody, it was in my opinion, protected under the fair use doctrine, an area of the law that many lawyers can't agree upon.

I also pointed out that my blog is a non-commercial blog with a limited audience and I didn't see how posting a few small photos posed a threat to the business interests of the Herald.

I usually try to avoid cliches: but the irony here is so thick that you can cut it with a knife.

First we have newspaper - that should be the first South Florida entity to safeguard free speech - trying to censor a piss-ant blogger.

Clearly my post made fun of the editorial judgment that allowed those photos to run on the web site.

But why didn't I get an email after I posted this?

Wait. I think I know the answer.

It's because if you say complimentary things about the Herald, then everything is just fine. But if you criticize us...then you'll be hearing from our lawyers! Can you say hypocrisy boys and girls?

More irony. Those of us who've been in South Florida for a while know about the Herald's penchant for "borrowing stuff."

Those who read this blog regularly know that I take numerous shots at the Herald. But I apparently touched a raw nerve with yesterday's post.

But if you're going to dish it out, shouldn't you be big enough to take it?

Especially when free speech is at stake.

A few weeks ago a Washington Post writer stirred up a hornet's nest on the blogosphere when he complained that the New York City blog,, "stole" his stuff after it posted four sentences from a story he'd written for the Post.

Some at the Post reasoned that if this "thievery" continued, blogs would soon put all newspapers out of business. Bullsh*t!

Gabriel Snyder of Gawker wrote:
"Blogs are killing newspapers. But it's not by mindlessly cutting and pasting from newspaper web sites. Gawker would go out of business if that's all we did.

"The bigger threat is that blogs say the things that hidebound newspaper editors are too afraid to let their reporters write."
Random Pixels has no intention of putting the Herald out of business.

We're just here to have a little fun...and say a few things that the Herald is afraid to say.

But it's clear from this morning's email, that some at the Herald have no sense of humor.

And that's too bad.


  1. That is beyond lame.

    Let me know if anything comes of it (unlikely, once an actual lawyer starts to look at the pros and cons of this....)

  2. We need to give this some air on the local blogs. This is total BS.


  3. Your mistake was not sending the Miami Hurled an invoice for the promotional service you offered by distributing those photos.

  4. As a vociferous blogger, as well as a freelance writer, I've never been treated with anything but respect from the Herald, and I believe I have probably said more nasty shit about their food and wine writers than anyone in this town (and they also were paying me at the time). I can't really figure out what your gripe is with them.

    If you are saying that many years ago Mr. Mullin had an issue with the Herald, and that now, 16 years later you have an issue with the Herald regarding what you call 'press freedom', and that's been it for a hundred years or however long the Herald's been around, I'd say that is actually a pretty damn good record of respecting 'press freedom'. Incidentally, the first amendment reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
    Freedom of the press is about the government infringing on our freedoms, not the Miami Herald. Also, something I've found out personally as a professional douche-sometimes you're not as funny as you think you are. Maybe the Herald just doesn't see the humor in you stealing their shit?

  5. Get off Suzanne Levinson's back, please. She's a very nice person, merely doing her job.
    Publishers have certain rights that legal prudence requires them to assert when somebody else lifts their stuff-- even if they don't really intend legal action.

    Publishing pros know this. Amateurs should.


  6. @ 'witz:

    Arnold: I realize Suzanne is just doing her job...or is she?

    She told me on the phone that the Herald doesn't have the resources to actively pursue alleged use of Herald content. They kind of do it willy nilly.

    Everyone at the Herald has known for months and months that I do, on occasion, post Herald content...not unlike many South Florida bloggers the Herald hasn't threatened.

    The question is why has the Herald chosen to go after me for posting two photos, that were "fair use?"

    For more context read this post: As you can see, the Herald also benefits; they are just too stupid to figure it out.


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