One Blogger vs the Daily Mail – How not to Manage Communications
Today, I came across an article (posted on Twitter by a photographer friend of mine) about how the Daily Mail — a newspaper in the UK — used a photo on its web publication when the photographer had expressly asked the publication (in writing) not to.
Basically, a blogger had taken a number of photos showing what she deemed “anorexic-looking mannequins” on display in a Gap store. Her photos were picked up by a number of other blogs with her permission and photo credit. Due to the buzz that surrounded the conversation, the Daily Mail contacted her (via email) to see if they could also use the images on their site. What ensued was a price negotiation (with the blogger asking for the money to go to charity), which resulted in the Mail claiming they could not afford the photos and the blogger explaining that in light of that fact, they were not approved to use them.
That’s when things went wrong.
The Mail opted to use the photos on its site anyway. Not only did they use them, they did not provide any photo credit or a link back to the original source. Needless to say, the blogger found out her work had been stolen and took to the Internet to complain. Now, the fact of the matter is, I (and seemingly most of the people reading her article) don’t understand the legality of their actions. But, that really doesn’t matter because when I read her post my perception was, “just another example of the big guy cheating the little guy.” And, perception is reality.
So far, (since its posting yesterday 8/16) she’s received almost 100 blog comments, plus hundreds of shares on Twitter and Facebook. Plus, when I did a Google News search for Daily Mail, the first nine stories were covering the “theft.” As of my reading, the Mail has made no comment about the story. Also, when you visit the Mail’s story you’ll notice that they’ve disabled the comments.
So how should the Mail have handled this situation?:
- Don’t steal!
- Make your terms and conditions clear up front
- Never underestimate the power of the little guy (especially in these economic times) people are feeling downtrodden, don’t give them a reason to single you out as making matters worse
- Admit to your mistakes. The editor who had the conversation with the blogger should have immediately made a public apology and offered to make the charitable contribution that the blogger initially requested
- Don’t stop your readers from commenting on your stories. News is bound to cause buzz, and if the feedback is too hot to handle, maybe you should change what you’re doing.