Friday, 20 November 2009

The Worst of Times - Online

Following on from my previous Murdoch rants and his efforts to rid the world wide web of any free news content, it seems their audacity knows no bounds (again no suprise there).

Not content with disparaging the BBC and campaigning for the disbandment of state - run media, charging for online content and ensuring it is blocked from Google and other search engines, it seems Murdoch's media machine is not beyond a spot of plagiarism. Anyone who tweets on Twitter and is an avid follower of writer/director Edgar Wright would have borne witness to the controversy, not to mention the tweeting equivalent of fisticuffs between Wright and The Times newspaper online.

The saddening news was broadcast/published of the passing of Edward Woodward on Monday 16th November 2009, aged 79. Tributes poured in from all over mourning the loss of this legendary actor. One such tribute came from Edgar Wright on his blog "edgarwrighthere.com" a heart felt and well written piece recounting his personal recollections as a yongster having seen Woodward in the critically acclaimed television drama Callan to his delight and honour of working with the great man on Hot Fuzz (of which Wright was director and co-writer along with Simon Pegg). The Times, rather than assign one of their own stable of highly paid writers to pen their own tribute, lift Wright's piece from his blog and execute what is tantamount to literary butchery before posting it on their website, without even contacting the author for approval or providing an opportunity to edit his own work for them.

Naturally Wright was unhappy about this not just because his work was stolen (that has legal and ethical concerns of its own) but that it was edited in such a brutal fashion it made him appear, according to his tweets, "ill informed and unfeeling". They even omitted his recounting of the time he worked with Woodward which was an essential part of the piece.

Since then, The Times, seemed to have acquiesced to Wright's calls for his piece to be published in full and will be making a donation to Woodward's memorial . I find it intriguing, however, that Rupert Murdoch spouts off about quality jounrnalism and integrity as well as a need for protecting the future of his on-line content by ending free access. If this is the sort of quality journalism one can expect from Murdoch's media outlets, and then have the cheek to charge for somebody else's work published without their permission (especially when that work can be viewed for free) then I suspect profit loss from falling advertising revenue might seem like a storm in a teacup.

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