GateHouse memo to employees

Media Nation has obtained a memo sent to the troops by GateHouse Media New England president Rick Daniels. I present it here in full; emphases are Daniels’. If there’s anyone at the Boston Globe and/or the New York Times Co. who’s got a memo you’d like to share on this matter, my e-mail address is in the right-hand rail.

GATEHOUSE MEDIA NEW ENGLAND – MEMORANDUM

To: GateHouse Media New England Colleagues

From: Rick Daniels, president / CEO GHMNE (and the GHMNE Senior Team)

Date: Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

We just wanted to inform you that we have settled the lawsuit that was to have begun Monday morning in Federal Court. A lot has begun to be written about the case, and more will be, but we wanted to take this opportunity to address you, our colleagues, to whom this great outcome belongs.

The outcome of this case addressed each and every substantive point of why there ever was a lawsuit in the first place. Despite the “chaff” that has been thrown up, this case is not, and never was about, “linking”; it’s about the ability of GateHouse to protect our valuable content from inclusion in websites, or anywhere else where it doesn’t belong – and being used by competitors who have no permission to use our content. We could not be happier with the outcome, and it will be clear to anyone who has followed this case and the extensive trail of public documents that have been generated, why. You will hear or read a lot of opinions from those who have no idea what they are talking about. For instance: “GateHouse should have tried to settle this quietly and without going to court”. We did. Please ask us about ANY question or concern you have.

You, our professionals, have built an extensive array of local websites that are the “real McCoys” because hundreds and hundreds of LOCAL journalists and advertising professionals nourish them with content and revenue. Our journalists have been reporting LOCAL news and events in our newspapers or websites that have become part of the very fabric of over 150 greater Boston towns. Similarly, when local, and now so many regional and national advertisers look at their best market coverage options, they turn to OUR newspapers and websites due to the over 1.7 million readers we have each week, and about the same number of unique web visits. As we all know, success breeds imitation – always has, always will – but it SHOULDN’T breed violations of our legal rights to protect the content and journalism we generate.

We embrace – absolutely – the most core principles of the Internet and Web – linking and content sharing that supplements our own content and exposes this content to a wider audience. We also have enlisted a virtually countless number of local contributors, bloggers and webmasters with whom we have shared – and will most certainly continue to share content – vigorously and actively. We only expect those with whom we share content to comply with all applicable licenses and copyrights, as we do ourselves. Respect for these rights actually leads to the creation of MORE content, as the content creators have the potential to earn an economic reward for their efforts. For anyone who thinks or says that GateHouse is against the well-embraced Internet practice of content sharing and linking, and that we don’t understand the great value of these practices, they are dead wrong. If, by defending our legitimate copyrights and our ability to control where our content appears, we are thought to be “old school” – guilty as charged!

Both the press release and the letter agreement between GateHouse and the New York Times Company can be found at the GateHouse investor’s website: http://investors.gatehousemedia.com/. A word of caution: Settling a lawsuit requires certain each party to honor certain agreements, our Chief Counsel, Polly Sack has asked that the attached directive go out to all GateHouse employees. [Note: Media Nation does not have the attachment.] Please read it and comply with it – fully. She and we want to ensure we comply with both the letter and spirit of the agreement. It’s how we do business. If there are ANY questions on the requirements of this agreement, please contact Polly Sack [contact information omitted].

There are so many people and organizations to thank for the case we put forward, it wouldn’t be fair to try to list them all, but credit has to be given to our Corporate GateHouse colleagues, and especially Mike Reed, for their willingness to undertake this complex action based on their judgment of the merits of the case. Polly Sack, our GateHouse corporate counsel was, from start to finish, immense in her wisdom and expertise. The litigators from the firm of Hiscock and Barclay were extraordinary in their professional skill and stamina. Speaking of stamina, those who produced most of the discovery documents, prepared for depositions, and endured the grueling ordeal of depositions have to be credited. Much of this work was done on a “nights, weekends and holidays” basis. Recipients of the “Cool Under Fire” awards have to go to Kirk [Davis], Greg Reibman, Anne Eisenmenger, Chris Eck, Bill Blevins and Howard Owens, among others. MANY others not only contributed thoughts and helped the case in various ways, but also held down the fort as so many of us were otherwise occupied by doing in one month what our attorneys said would typically take 12-18 months!

Having this behind us is great, but it’s the road ahead where the battle for the hearts, minds, dollars and eyeballs of local readers and advertisers will be won or lost, and make NO mistake, we will win, but we will face formidable competition at every juncture, which is something that we’re not afraid of – whether it be print, digital or any other form of the media. This agreement just ensures that critical aspects of the competition will be within appropriate legal boundaries.

We also, thanks to the great majority of our reporters, editors, photographers and others who “get it”, will continue to make our websites, and certainly our newspapers continue to be the beneficiaries of content partners who both USE our content in appropriate and legal ways, and provide content to our sites that enriches them. We urge you to re-double your efforts to partner with any and all content partners who can make our offerings more compelling, or expose our content more widely.

Thanks again for not only your great support during this difficult, yet so very successful case.

Rick

4 thoughts on “GateHouse memo to employees

  1. bostonmediawatch

    The GateHouse drama critic should review the letter to employees.It’s longer than the agreement.

  2. Bob Sprague

    Memo to Rick:If you believe linking is so crucial, then you should encourage those who maintain Wicked Local Web sites to provide more linking — any linking! — within your original content. Stories at Wicked Local sites appear to be “scraped” from the Wicked Local newspapers, largely without further alteration.Bob SpragueYourArlington.com

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