Gatehouse has been a smart if small – and getting smaller (stock=$0.04-$0.05; down 99.05% in a year; market cap=$2.1 million) – local media company. It is, for example, going into competitors’ markets to compete with them online with hyperlocal blogs. So I just can’t wait to hear their explanation and justification for following the Associated Press down the rabbit hole to sue Boston.com for daring to link to its sites.
Here‘s Boston.com’s version of the story; here‘s Gatehouse’s. As near as I can tell, Gatehouse’s gets it way wrong accusing Boston.com of copying whole stories. “Boston.com has posted as many as 30 stories per day of original GateHouse content on its Newton site,” the Gatehouse story says. But here‘s Boston.com’s Newton hyperlocal site; all I see are headlines, ledes, and links directly to complete stories on Gatehouse’s Wickedlocal with clear branding. The links are all the stronger because they include headlines (I argue in my book that online, your product is your ad).
Gatehouse should be sucking Boston.com’s toes begging for more links, not siccing lawyers on them as the AP did when a blog dared to link to its stories from headlines.
The move is not just brain dead but dangerous, for it threatens the ecology of links that I believe will be the underpinning of news online. Links are how original journalism will be supported.
Boston.com and its parent, The New York Times Company, need to fight for the right to link. Gatehouse needs to get a clue.