Dirty pool, man. Dirty fucking pool! I wrote a pretty kick-ass interview with Damon Albarn, I don’t mind saying that – I wouldn’t normally boast about my own posts, but I was fuckin’ shitting myself waiting to talk to this guy. I’m a huge fan of a lot of his work and I just had the feeling he could be really difficult. Add to that – he was on tour, and the interview was rescheduled more than once on that day. I was up and at it, ready to go when I received a call telling me I’d have to wait. Half an hour went by and the second planned interview time lapsed. Then I was told I’d have to wait about four hours or so.
The longer I had to “prepare” the more I freaked out – it was a stay of execution. My Saturday was disappearing, and then, eventually the time came – I went and got ready for the call. It came through. It worked! He was there. And, you know what, he was really nice to chat to. Relaxed, fairly forthcoming with information – I asked him about projects and he kept telling me stuff. It ended up being fairly easy. I took great care in the writing up, tried my best. And was really happy with the result.
As soon as it went up online people started “borrowing” it. No big deal. It would be nice to get some money, right. But that’s just not how it works. People send this stuff around – we all share – and that’s fine. But usually when a news source borrows your work they credit the original source, they name the place where the information was found.
Turns out I’d got some good scoops – I might have been the first to find out about the Rocket Juice & The Moon album/project – featuring Albarn, Flea and Tony Allen. And some chat about the possibility of reforming Blur, and putting an end to Gorillaz. That sort of thing. All good chat-fodder. And, as I say, I did my best. But even if I hadn’t – those sorts of spills, those sorts of reveals, would have found their way into purloined column inches around the world anyway. So I’m not patting myself on the back for nailing it – really I’m not. I just got lucky. The timing was right.
It was kinda cool seeing the story (my story) shared around the world. From blogs to news sites it did the rounds, Canada, America, Australia, NZ, England…Bloody England! The Guardian – not a small paper/site by any means – just decided to lift the story wholesale. They were very crafty in the wording, they never made it sound like they had the exclusive, they never made it seem – quite – like they had done the interview. But they never – at all – made it clear where they had taken the story from. The way they had represented – word for word – my interview it seemed to anyone reading (unless they had first read my interview/blog – which a lot of Guardian readers, most, would not have) that it was The Guardian’s story. Not even a link to the blog.
So I was a bit fucked off. I didn’t care that other news sites were quoting it – all had mentioned me, or at least Stuff.co.nz – I don’t get any bonus from that. Stuff wasn’t going to pay me any extra money, I guess I’d get a few more hits and that’s good for business or whatever, but to me it just seemed a dirty blow from a paper that should know better. You know what it was though? All it was – and this was very clear – was the paper did not want to link to anything outside of its own site. All the links on the articles I checked that day were to other Guardian stories. Kinda missing the point of the internet, I thought.
So I sent the writer an email. I was polite. I pointed out that I thought they could have sourced the article – credited the source that is. I wasn’t expecting to be named. A link to the site or a mention of where they got the information would have been nice. That writer passed on the email to the editor. The editor wrote back to me basically saying, “we never said we wrote it, so what’s your problem?”
What fucking cunts.
I wrote back and – bit my tongue, kinda. Just said I think it’s a bit shit of you – or something. And they wrote back the next day, going, “we’ve put a link to your blog” but had to add a smug wee are you happy now? kind of tag. A little dig.
The way I saw it, they were the big guys in this situation, fucking over the little dude. And they were pissed off for getting called on it.
I got over it pretty quickly. Sure. But every now and then I think about it – and just think it was so sneaky of them. Petty and pathetic. I’m not any sort of justice-seeking letter-writer normally. I really can’t give a fuck to be that guy. But I guess it worked out. Kinda. That smugness, the suggestion that they were doing me a massive favour and that I should be grateful and that they had in no way done anything wrong really irks me. I say I’m over it. But I wrote this. Just now. So, I guess, in some ways I’m not over it. I just thought The Guardian were fucking jerks for that. And though they have some great writers offering really good reviews and stories I still think they’re pretty shit for that. If they did that to me – and were such dicks about it – imagine how often they’re doing it and getting away with it.