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From the Editor: Stealing the News

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We want you to read our stories, not steal them.

Your subscriptions help me pay reporters to gather the news, so when someone takes our work and republishes it without permission, they’re taking from all of us.

It happened last week with a blog called Refugee Resettlement Watch. It’s a website run by an anti-refugee group paying close attention to the CSI Refugee Center’s plans to resettle some Syrians here in Twin Falls this fall, mostly by reading our stories.

Problem is, the site was reposting the stories verbatim instead of paying its own reporters to do the shoe-leather work your Times-News subscriptions support.

Our lawyer sent Refugee Resettlement Watch a letter asking it to remove our work from its site.

Refugee Resettlement Watch complied, but posted this amusing note where our content used to reside:

“Editor: The article has been removed at the request of an attorney for the newspaper which is clearly unhappy with any of their articles being partially posted here at RRW.

“This is just further demonstration of how local newspapers are attempting to silence critics presumably because they are in the pockets of the federal government, the refugee contractors and the big businesses that need this cheap immigrant labor. Who is driving the cheap labor needs in Twin Falls?”

We all had a nice chuckle.

Allow me to address the points made in the note.

First, “partially posted,” is far from the truth. In fact, the most recent story the site ripped off posted the first 11 paragraphs – nearly the whole story.

“Silence critics?” Hardly. Anyone who reads the Times-News knows we welcome – even encourage – criticism. Just take a look at our opinion page, which on balance has run more letters against the refugee program than in favor. We even publish letters from people critical of our work.

It’s also worth noting that the Times-News was the first to report that Syrians were coming to Twin Falls, and we’ve published many stories about this issue since. If we were trying to silence people or cover something up, we sure have a funny way of doing it.

“In the pockets of the federal government, the refugee contractors and the big businesses?” Laughable. To imply the federal government – or anyone else — has any influence over our news coverage is ludicrous and shows a complete lack of understanding about how we report the news.

So would we have demanded Refugee Resettlement Watch remove the content if the website was in favor of refugee programs?

Of course. I could care less about a thief’s political beliefs – I don’t want anyone stealing our stories.

The whole affair highlights a sad truth: Folks who love to bash newspapers often couldn’t exist without them. Whether it is bloggers, talk radio hosts or TV pundits, the topics on which they opine usually came to light because of a hard-working newspaper reporter.

In this case, it’s Julie Wootton – working her butt off to break news and report the truth.

And that’s something worth paying for.

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