Media Mutt

illustration/Cory Pandolph


More Photo Misappropriation?

By Al Diamon


“Scraping” by: The practice of grabbing photos off Web sites for unauthorized use elsewhere is called “scraping.” It’s unethical and possibly illegal.

The Portland Press Herald got caught doing it in August.

A few days later, so did the Lewiston Sun Journal.

Both eventually settled with the rightful owners.

Now, there’s a question about outdoor writer George Smith’s blog, which ran a spectacular aerial shot of Moosehead Lake on Sept. 18 above a story about the Maine Forest Products Council hiring former journalist Roberta Scruggs.

The photo, which had nothing whatsoever to do with the article, was taken by Associated Press photographer Robert F. Bukaty in 2004.

The AP routinely licenses its photos to anyone willing to pay a fee. But Smith admitted in an e-mail that he didn’t pay for the photo rights. Responding to my question about whether he had permission to use the photo, he wrote, “Got no idea Al. It’s in my photo file, so I must have used it before, or someone sent it to me.” In a later e-mail, he said, “I had no idea it was an AP file photo.” Nevertheless, the picture was still on his Web site on the morning of Sept. 22.

What is known is that Bukaty was notified about Smith’s use of his photo earlier this week by an unknown source, possibly the same person who called the situation to my attention. According to someone with knowledge of the complaint, Bukaty referred the matter to New York to see if a fee had been paid. At last word, there’d been no determination by the AP bureaucracy.

We’ll have to wait to find out if Smith is in a scrape over scraping.


Anchor hoisted: Another community newspaper is in danger of being dragged under by the poor economy. The Anchor, an eight-year-old monthly in Harpswell, may have put out its last issue, due to late payments from advertisers and staff resignations. The free paper was founded by Robert Anderson, who told the Forecaster it’s possible the October issue will get printed, but it will be at least a week late and lacking material from several regular contributors.


Lax coverage: That’s “lax” as in lackadaisical. The Portland Press Herald finally got around on Sept. 20 to covering the big unanswered question in the controversy surrounding last week’s sudden shutdown of the Porthole restaurant on Portland’s waterfront for health violations: Is the city’s inspection of such eateries sufficient to protect the public?

Based on a Freedom of Information request the Press Herald says it filed in August, the paper reported that Portland is failing miserably in keeping up with those inspections and complying with state law. But it delicately decided not to tell readers which 39 of the city’s eating establishments failed inspections in the past year or so, which 30 were supposed to be re-inspected but weren’t, which six failed follow-up inspections and which three failed more than one follow-up. It does name the three restaurants that were actually closed due to serious violations.

While this story was a step in the right direction in exposing serious problems at City Hall, its timidity about naming names made it look as if the Press Herald is more concerned with protecting advertisers than the public.

The Sept. 22 Press Herald finally carried a complete list of restaurants that failed and passed city inspections, as well as some explanations for why certain eateries failed. Better a week late than never.


Lax fax: That’s “lax” as in lacrosse. Bangor Daily News reporter Seth Koenig has an interesting story in the Sept. 20 edition of the paper about Dr. Robert David “KC” Johnson of Scarborough, author of the 2007 book “Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustice of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.”

Duke University is trying to force Johnson to turn over his notes from interviews for the book in an attempt to defend itself against lawsuits resulting from the 2006 case in which three of the school’s lacrosse players were accused of rape. The charges were later dropped, and the district attorney prosecuting the case was disbarred.
Johnson has refused the university’s request that he give it his background material, so Duke filed suit this week in U.S. District Court in Portland in an attempt to compel him to do so. Johnson’s lawyers say his use of confidential sources is protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press. In court filings, Duke’s attorney says it only wants to discuss information from sources named in the book. Johnson’s legal team is scheduled to file its response by Sept. 21.

Left-wing slant? The Maine Wire, the Web site started by the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center to promote its view of news, offered this headline on Sept. 21: “MPBN releases People’s Report Card to grade legislators.”

MPBN? Maine Public Broadcasting Network? The bête noire of right-wingers? Why would the Maine Wire be promoting what it considers its ideological opposite?

As it turns out, it wasn’t. The report card in question came from Maine People Before Politics – MPBP – a group that supports the policies of Republican Gov. Paul LePage.


I approve this message: Looking for a place to get away from all the noise of political advertising? Try turning on the radio.

Candidates aren’t buying much airtime on local radio stations this year, according to a comment Cary Pahigian, market manager for Saga Communications’ Portland-area stations made to Radio while attending the National Association of Broadcasters and Radio Advertising Bureau joint “Radio Show” in Dallas, Texas, earlier this week.

“So far political [advertising] is a disappointment,” Pahigian said. “It’s on TV.”

Maybe Saga should try turning a negative into a positive by promoting itself as a refuge from the blather.


Al Diamon can be emailed at



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: