August 20, 2009


Today we examine Suzanne Levinson's action against a local blog. It's an action that is already drawing ire from other professional journalists. Sadly, Suzanne Levinson is Director Of Operations for the Miami Herald.

It's sad because she's apparently blisteringly stupid.

Here's the story: a blog called Random Pixels posted some pictures he found on the Herald site, buried in a slideshow. He's a photographer and a journalist, and as a journalist, he often offers insight into the news media, and sometimes it's bluntly critical. Other times, not so much, such as the entry in question.

The article in question is titled "Random Pixels Recognizes..." In it, he salutes the Herald for the work of two of their staff photographers, and to make the point, he included the photos from the website (since you can't link directly to a picture embedded in a slide show).

This photo:


and this one:


Frankly, while the subjects are pretty, there is nothing particularly exceptional about these photos. Nobody is going to be winning any awards of any sort for them as photographs. In fact, that's the satirical point that Random Pixels was making. These are just pretty good pictures of very pretty girls. No one is ever going to look back at them to prove who won the game, or if a law was broken, or the state of the union. They're not good candidates for a poster or magazine cover. They aren't even worthy of a postcard. In fact, because they were buried in a slide show, it's unlikely that very many people would ever have seen them - until RP included them in a post.

He didn't claim credit for the photos - they are full attributed. He even provided a link to the Herald photo gallery, so that his readers could go and see more Herald photos. Far from doing any kind of damage to the Herald, he's actually sending traffic their way!

And Levinson's response?
Please remove these photos and any other Miami Herald content present on your site immediately.
It's obvious that the Herald's Director of Site Operations is absolutely clueless; about copyright law, and about how the internet works, either of which is bad news for the Herald.

First, the internet. INTERnet. The INTER stands for interconnectivity. The goal of every website is to have other websites link to it. It increases visibility. It's how search engines work: the website with the most links to matching specific parameters must have the best relevance to the search parameters. The website with the most links is the most likely to have data worth searching for

When I link to other blogs, their traffic goes up, and sometimes I get an email thanking me for the link. In fact, on one of my blogs, I get thank you notes from magazines and news outlets -and even reporters - for driving traffic their way. It's quid-pro-quo.

So stories with content like Random Pixels' works on two levels: first, people will follow the links, which increases traffic at the Herald. Second, it increases the the likelihood that search engines will cite the website in searches, which also drives traffic to the website. It's a win-win situation for the Miami Herald, which is why it's so mind-bogglingly stupid of Levinson to complain about it.

Some of you might be saying "But - he used those pictures! They are protected by copyright!" And yes, he did, and yes, they are. But he didn't violate copyright. When you write an article about copyrighted material, you are permitted to use small samples of that material if it's germain to your article. It's called the Fair Use doctrine, and specifically covers use of copyrighted material in news stories or satire.

It says loads about the Herald that the person in charge of its website not only is apparently unfamiliar with Fair Use, but is so out of touch with the workings of the internet that she'd threaten someone who's actually increasing the visibility of the Miami Herald on the internet. "Stop telling people to read the HERALD" is what she's really saying.

This illustrates one of the worst by-products of the massive layoffs made by the Herald - you end up with a staff consisting of the very best (whom you don't layoff because they bring in revenue) and the very worst (whom you keep because their salaries are lower). Columnists and creators of content associated closely with the Herald, tend to fill the first group. A few advertising execs are in that first group, too.

Since Levinson isn't in sales and doesn't have a byline, this action makes it very apparent which end of the spectrum she falls into.


  1. Great tits! .... What was this post about, again?

  2. So did the pics stay up? I'd love to hear how this finally played out. I really hope Levinson reads this blog.

  3. LMAO @ Squathole!

    And rest assured the pics will stay up!

    thanks for helping M or M!

  4. Still one of your best posts ever.

    Stopped by after it popped up in a Google search.