I received1 this same email solicitation from The Nation as Mark Karlin did. I’ve been a subscriber to The Nation since before there was such a thing as a browser, but I’ve been a reader of BuzzFlash for nearly their entire existence as well. The Nation’s attack seems a bit odd, why attack fellow progressives when there are so many other, juicier targets?
In the meantime, we were a bit astonished to receive a mass solicitation e-mail on December 16 from Katrina vanden Heuvel (the editorial and marketing genius currently publishing “The Nation”) — whom we deeply admire — accusing BuzzFlash, among others, of running “Nation” stories “without contributing a penny to support and produce the journalism we invest in.”
We don’t mind being called out by name by people who have a different opinion, but it’s another story when a publication you deeply admire slanders you. The fact is that we post headline links to “The Nation” stories from which they derive more hits because of our size, and they then can charge more money to the likes of Coca Cola and Discover Card for running ads for those corporations. BuzzFlash has never reproduced, copied, nor violated the copyright of any “Nation” article, and many of “The Nation” writers, including Jeremy Scahill whom vanden Heuvel mentions, read BuzzFlash and have been interviewed by BuzzFlash.
In short, as far as BuzzFlash is concerned, Katrina vanden Heuvel is defaming our proud and unblemished heritage.
Furthermore, BuzzFlash is probably the largest non-bookstore seller of Nation Books on the Web and plans to continue selling Nation Books, just as we plan continuing linking to “Nation” articles.
Vanden Heuvel, with whom we have communicated positively and admiringly in our early years (including an interview we did and posted about her book “Dictionary of Republicanisms”; BuzzFlash also sold her tome, “Meltdown”), also should know that BuzzFlash has a staff, posts much of its own original content on our blog, runs advocacy campaigns such as Turn Off Fox, and has created a marketplace for progressive writers, musicians, actors, Fair Trade (living wage), and eco-products. Our staff has broken and brought to the forefront many a story over the years.
In fact, BuzzFlash has played an instrumental role in publicizing and distributing Nation Books such as “Blackwater” and “Republican Gomorrah” and many others. Katrina vanden Heuvel sits on the Board of the Nation Institute, which publishes Nation Books (through Perseus), and the Nation Institute is strongly affiliated with “The Nation.”
In short, when vanden Heuvel writes in her e-mail fundraising plea, “While I suspect you may have read Scahill or Roston or Jones — and other Nation investigations — on Common Dreams, Alternet or Buzzflash, please remember that these ‘aggregator’ websites use our work without contributing a penny to support and produce the journalism we invest in.”
I can’t speak for Common Dreams or Alternet, but vanden Heuvel is making the same argument that Rupert Murdoch does, which makes them a very odd couple indeed. Let’s see: BuzzFlash links directly to Nation articles, which drives up their “hits” and page views, which means that they can charge Coca Cola more money to greenwash itself! And BuzzFlash promotes “The Nation” writers and books through interviews.
I tried to find an example of a Scahill article lifted from The Nation, and could not find one. There are links like:
Who will mete out justice for America’s merchants of death? Jeremy Scahaill brilliantly analyzes Blackwater USA after their deadly shootout in the streets of Baghdad. This article will be printed in the Oct. 15th, 2007 edition of the Nation.
[Click to continue reading BuzzFlash.net – Progressive News and Commentary with an Attitude | Fight Ignorance: Read BuzzFlash]
but that’s pretty clearly a link to The Nation’s website, and is no more than a teaser. BuzzFlash does post a lot of links to other places, but they don’t excerpt much of the original story; if a reader was interested in the topic, they would click through the link to read the rest at the original publisher.
There is even a FAQ entry about the practice:
Why just the links?
Our job is made much simpler and legally safer if we point you to the articles, instead of copying, formatting, and posting them to the BuzzFlash site.
So I don’t understand the slam. If The Nation wants to hide itself behind a paywall, just do it already. I hope they don’t, I like directing people who are not subscribers to read articles at the Nation website, but if Ms. Vanden Heuvel is worried about copyright theft, she should take action and stop pointing the finger at fellow travelers like BuzzFlash.Footnotes:
- and responded negatively to [↩]