Last weekend, I woke up to a text from a friend. She said there was some commotion relating to a website I wrote for, Arch City Sports, and I needed to look into it. Once I saw the Twitter feed and the two fellow St. Louis Cardinals writers and friends talking about a certain article on ACS, I knew exactly what happened and what I had to do.
In this day and age, where a war wages on between print and digital journalism, page views are the new drug for websites. Page views above all else. I wrote for ACS for over a year and liked the flow of traffic my articles got. I liked the interaction I got on Facebook and the comments that grew from the reads. The page views weren’t bad either. However, last weekend, the question rose straight out of the ground. What is more important? Journalistic integrity or page views? If the answer takes more than one moment of thought to an honest and ambitious writer, stay away from keyboards and computers. When in doubt, my fellow hungry and unpaid reporters and prose dispensers, maintain a high amount of integrity.
So, what did Arch City Sports do? They copy and pasted articles posted from other sites and merely put in parenthesis at the beginning…Associated Press. That is not enough credit. It’s never enough credit. This wasn’t the first time it had happened with the site. They copy and pasted before and they will again. Before I joined the site, a few good people told me to steer clear of the site. I didn’t listen and defended the site’s ambitions. I thought I was going to join something really special. In the end, it was a website that functioned on page views and NOTHING else. There are good people still there. The leader, who I don’t really want to name here, is misguided and possessed by being better than the other sites and doing whatever has to be done in order to reach that level. That’s not the right way to go about getting noticed. Getting taken seriously is way out of his reach.
Update-The legal problem here wasn’t copying and pasting the Associated Press’ work. Plenty of newspapers and outlets do just that. However, you have to pay for their services before using them on your site. Arch City pulled the story off but this wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time. It would be like taking someone’s music and passing it off as your own without paying the original artist in the first place. It’s a huge penalty in journalism. Hat tip to Cole Claybourn for the info here.
Last Saturday, I decided to leave the site. I was contributing content on the Cardinals, Blues and Rams. I wrote over 150 articles in 16 months for the site. I got paid little but did it for the love of the game. It’s the same reason I contribute to great sites like The Cards Conclave, KSDK Sports and write and help run a movie website, film-addict. I do it because I love it and I need to do it to stay sane. What I can’t do is be a part of a site that steals material and presents it as their own. That is something I have never done and will never do. It’s just not worth it. I’d rather write an article for a proud site like the Cards Conclave and get 10-15 likes or 50 reads and maintain a certain level of integrity rather than steal a few paragraphs and collect 1,000 views and 1,500 likes. In the end, be respectful of other writers and their hard work. If it keeps you at the back of the line in exposure, so be it. Opportunity shouldn’t come through theft. It should be delivered as a result of hard ass work. True grit and not weak morals.
I didn’t wake up Saturday thinking I wouldn’t be a part of Arch City Sports by the end of the day. The biggest changes in life happen without warning or notice. Life is a series of reactions. Things happen and you react. It’s how you react that determines where your future will be steered. You can’t control what happens next but you can control where you stand at any given moment when it comes to integrity. In the end, think about yourself a little while being good to others. Don’t forget about what matters most at the end of the day. Being at peace with yourself as a writer.
As I write this tonight, I am at peace with myself. That is more important than any amount of page views.
Thanks for reading.