Recovering Journalist blogger Mark Potts today pans the NYT Co. for "wimp[ing] out" in the face of GateHouse Media's lawsuit--and, in the processes, advances the widespread notion that GateHouse's suit was unjustifiable:
[I]n waging an old-fashioned kind of newspaper war, GateHouse brought an antique blunderbuss to bear on a fight over a high-tech mosquito. Yeah, it may have gotten its way in the settlement, but it risked endangering the entire concept of Web linking. And the Times Co., by rolling over rather than fighting back with its traditional vigor, has left that issue very much open. [emph. added]
"High-tech mosquito"? I'm sorry, but this phrase suggests that Potts is willfully ignoring the stakes here. As I've previously noted, Boston.com wasn't just linking to GateHouse's content on its "Your Town" sites; it was linking to GateHouse content in a way that could have made reading GateHouse's own Wicked Local sites totally unnecessary (except through Boston.com, of course). And that could have put GateHouse out of business. It's remarkable how many people seem to miss this basic point.
From GateHouse's point of view, that's not a high-tech A-bomb. It's remarkable how many people don't seem to get this.
Perennial disclaimer on all things GateHouse: I used to work at Community Newspaper Company, which became part of GateHouse after my departure, and know some current GateHouse employees.
P.S.--The notion that the Times's "wimp[iness]" augurs poorly for the future of Web linking doesn't necessarily hold up, either, as Kennedy recently noted, Instead, as the Nieman Journalism Lab's Zachary Seward observes, it augurs poorly for the future of automated aggregation that supplants original content providers rather than complimenting them. To my mind, this is something to be cheered, not condemned.