Monday, November 01, 2010

what the?

Please read What the? Part 2 to see what happened next!

But first, let's go back to the beginning of the story.

Hey I've got a great idea. How about I publish a magazine with a heap of cool content that I don't have to pay for, nor will I bother to ask permission to reprint it. Pure genius!

This little beauty just flapped its way into my inbox. I must admit I only open 1/4 of PR-looking emails.


XXX* magazine is Melbourne’s newest food and drink title - with a significant difference. It is the first to showcase independent local blogs and articles with a definitive focus on the city’s food culture. Effectively a printed portal, it features snippets of interesting, online material, with full reference and credit always given to the authors. And for the first time, using new smartphone technology, 2D codes printed in XXX provide a direct link to the original online article. A very similar premise to how a blogger might make reference to an external article they want to share - placing a link in their own blog and directing readers on. A product of Melbourne’s world-class food and drink industry, and the insightful contributions of the city’s bloggers and online authors, its debut will mark a progressive shift in contemporary publishing.

Never before have online authors been given such prominence in the print medium. Building on the passion of food enthusiasts, XXX’s publishers are undertaking this new initiative, hoping to promote what they believe is an outstanding standard of local blogging, and further establishing it as valid and valuable - as much so as traditional food writing. Moreover, with hundreds of articles posted online all the time, it can be hard for some people to come across information, news or reviews that they might enjoy and find helpful – especially those unfamiliar with the online forum, or still getting used to it. XXX makes it easier to sort through the vast catalogue of food stories by presenting those the editors find interesting and relevant, in a physical, familiar format.

Launching this December with a ‘Holiday Edition’, 20,000 audited copies will be circulated throughout more than 1,500 cafes, bars, restaurants and stores in the CBD and inner city suburbs. ‘Regular’ fortnightly editions will follow from January 2011. As a result, XXX’s featured bloggers will probably notice a marked increase in traffic to their sites, expanding the potential for those already advertising to capitalise on their work, and creating opportunities for those that yet don’t (through options like Google AdSense, Nuffnang and Foodbuzz).

In the interests of integrity, XXX doesn’t commission writers or works. Content isn’t product driven or based on any commercial directives. Instead it’s made up of positive, in-depth pieces with attractive photography, written by passionate and knowledgeable local ‘authorities’. XXX’s editors then scour the web, working to select and compile pieces relevant to particular topics and editions, covering subjects like restaurant reviews and recipes. Additionally, topics such as cafés, markets, new books, films, products, farming, events, health issues, legislation, and anything else food and drink related will be included. Put simply, the magazine is a reflection of food and drink culture, via the words and opinions of those that participate in Melbourne’s online publishing. It’s an independent and free publication, funded only through advertising.

XXX’s editorial policy ensures any authors who choose not to be included, for whatever reason, are respected, and won’t be featured. However, the publishers aim to benefit all facets of the food industry, including the independent writers. The hope is Melbourne’s online food community members are excited to be a part of it, support the idea, and simply continue to do what they love doing – taste, sip, snap, talk and write about food culture.

(etc etc)

* Name deleted

Can someone set me straight. It's a new publisher who wants to swipe our blog content, without seeking permission? An opt out not opt in kinda thing? And we should be flattered because " As a result, XXX’s featured bloggers will probably notice a marked increase in traffic to their sites".

Copyright issues anyone?

Update: the publisher assures me that they seek only to link to a blog post not the content. So it seems the punter will be flashing their smart phone at the code in the freebie if they see a reference to something they like the sound of? Interesting.

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Blogger Zoe said...

REminds me of that recent book Lucy and others were asked to "contribute" to - which I recently saw remaindered :)

6:47 pm  
Blogger GS said...

So funny we were talking about that today. It amused me greatly to see the publisher himself has set up a food he could feature it in his book.

One tweeter said that the small print says that they aren't republishing content only 'reviewing it' so apologies if I got this wrong. However the email itself did say "Content isn’t product driven or based on any commercial directives. Instead it’s made up of positive, in-depth pieces with attractive photography, written by passionate and knowledgeable local ‘authorities’. So I find that rather confusing. How can content be in-depth with photography and be a review?

I'm confused.

7:48 pm  
Anonymous Emily said...

I got this information as well and was a little confused.

I guess it comes down to how much is utilised, whether the reader can bypass actually reading the blog or whether the newspaper incites people to visit the blog.

The email also reads as if it is opt-out rather than opt-in which is another interesting aspect.

Guess it's a case of wait and see..

8:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firebomb their offices-No wait, is that wrong and can I say that without being litigated against?

9:23 pm  
Anonymous Duncan | syrupandtang said...

Damn, AOF, I was just waiting for the opportunity to threaten legal action against the mag if they reproduced anything of mine without permission. So rare are the opportunities for PR-bullshit payback;)

That fun option now removed, we just get to sit back and watch which bloggers leap at this publisher's intended "opportunity" for bloggers.

11:03 pm  
Blogger Johanna GGG said...

I found that email so long and hard to read that it reminded me of the terms and conditions that you have to agree to if you want to do anything these days - if the magazine is written like this, I find it hard to believe that anyone will read it - or is this an email they didn't really want us to read??? I am confused!

11:35 pm  
Blogger iODyne said...

Yes, what Johanna said about Terms And Conditions.

Many Bloggers have the Intellectual Property Rights Claimer on their sidebar, but really, it's Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword.

The people behind this wankfest are indeed top-level wankers though. he is just now creating his own foodie blog? what a hypocrite loser.
Karma will get him.

we could, of course, do that comment-bombing thing the feminists used so well against their bete noir bloggers.
I do believe though, that FOOD is the political issue of the future, and urge everybody to buy and read The Weekly Times.
Just for starters, Japanese corporation Kirin wholly-owns Coon cheese and Pura milk and that is helping me delete dairy from my diet.

9:03 am  
Blogger GS said...

It's rather interesting to see the anger in the comments even after I updated the post.

Marshall it's a she and I think you are getting your wires crossed with another publisher story.

I have had a volley of emails with the publisher but as many are marked with "in confidence" I can't reproduce them. And yes Johanna the first was directing her to the terms of my copyright as published on my blog.

The reality is the email that many of us received (there does appear to be a published list of our email addresses doesn't there? Did anyone opt into such a list? I sure as hell didn't and I'm mighty annoyed if someone in our food blogging community compiled such a list of contacts) is VERY CONFUSING. It is long, wordy and not thought through.

It comes from someone who does not appear to have dealt with the local food blogging community before and seems to think we are a harmonious bunch of happy campers, who like to monetize our blog and are hungry for traffic. And will give anything away in the pursuit of hits.


If you have an issue with the email, contact her directly and see if you can make sense of anything.

9:44 am  
Anonymous Lucy said...

Can I just add that beginning anything so "formal" with FYI just feels dirty, or hipster or...well, something a wee bit weird.

There must be a list of email addresses out there for the taking somewhere...hmmm...

9:58 am  
Anonymous Lucy said...

Also, what's with the opt-out "option" we're all given of late?

Oy. That is all.

10:11 am  
Blogger GS said...

Lucy I so agree with both your points. No wonder so many of us read (or possibly misread?) it as "For your information we are doing whatever we like, so there!"

And in my book, opt out is the option you are having when you are not being given an option.

10:16 am  
Blogger Veggie Mama said...

I'm still freaked out about the FYI at the top...

2:21 pm  
Blogger Ann ODyne said...

"the publisher himself has set up a food he could feature it in his book"

he is only just beginning to take part in the behemoth he seeks to exploit ... and I think that Marshall Stacks (whose wires are often crossed it is true) meant that we should all go to this brand new blog and fill his inbox with our opinions in an overwhelming manner.

he doesn't know much about playing on the www as it is clear he hasn't ever used Blogs Search on the Google homepage: just enter Melbourne food and they all appear.
I insist everywhere that The Weekly Times is where all food-aware people should look every Wednesday. you'll be shocked.
This week we learn that Sunrice has reopened their Deniliquin plant to cope with the huge rice crop.
Bon appetit.

12:06 pm  
Blogger BwcaBrownie said...

so off I went to Blog Search via the google news page for Melbourne Food:

and got this which made me sorry I didn't start a food blog and get all these free restaurant meals.

12:24 pm  
Blogger Anna said...

Just thought you'd like to know that I read this publication whilst eating lunch at a cafe today and it's absolute codswallop. The writing used to 'review' blog posts is so poor I cannot see how it could do bloggers a favour. It's at least half full-page advertising and has no original content aside from the 'reviews'. It will be fun to watch this newspaper disappear!

1:17 pm  
Blogger GS said...

Hi Anna - I saw it in December and was surprised to see them use such a large format and absolutely no original content, just a wrapper for advertising. Those trees have died for nothing. What's more you need to download an app, to zap the code, to read the mag, to access the links...

"I don't know why she swallowed a fly, perhaps she'll die"?

3:21 pm  
Blogger Anna said...

Or you could use the publication for toilet paper! Or composting the garden. Or fashioning a tri-cornered hat.

3:55 pm  
Blogger Sarah said...

I just read your post (after seeing tweets about Gram), and omg those douchebags have also taken my content! I never got the original email either, so thank-you for publishing that.


xox Sarah

12:10 pm  
Blogger Sarah said...

I think I'll write a blogpost about the whole Gram situation too - would it be ok with you if I copied and pasted excerpts from the above email into my post? I never received the original email :(

xox Sarah

2:04 pm  
Blogger GS said...

HI Sarah, you've seen part two I take it?

There's a serious issue (legally) if they never sent you an email. I understand that they didn't have email addresses for everyone but I stupidly assumed that meant they wouldn't use any content they hadn't cleared it with. It was bad enough they operated on an "opt out" basis (versus opt in) in the first place.

4:11 pm  
Blogger Sarah said...

Yup, I have read part 2 - thank-you for posting. In fact, that was the only way I knew about the details of Gram. Apart from reading a few tweets about it from disgruntled bloggers, I didn't know anything about it.

They never emailed me at all, just took my content without permission. :(

xox Sarah

6:29 pm  

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