An Open Letter To KOMO And Fisher Broadcasting

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by Scott Schaefer

Recently the B-Town Blog’s business model was soundly endorsed by Seattle’s KOMO/Fisher Broadcasting, when they launched numerous “local blogs” of their own.

We, along with other community news providers (read what fellow local blog had to say about their experience with them here, or what said here) enjoyed for a while KOMO’s attempts at “local journalism,” which ofentimes has consisted of the apparent copying of our stories (we know this because their IP addresses are traceable, we know they subscribe to our RSS feed, and we’ve read their nearly-identical stories, many of which were posted shortly after we posted ours) and even possibly using our graphics, then posting Burien-related news as “their own.”

But we’re not all that upset about our stories getting copied (nobody “owns” the news) – this happens all the time online, and heck, we’ve even gotten leads from other sources ourselves. All we request is simple attribution and a link, which we try to give every time we use an external news source. It’s just common courtesy, and is actually good for both parties.

No, what takes the cake regarding KOMO happened Tuesday, Sept. 15th, when we received the following email from a “Derek Smathers“:

Name: Derek Smathers

Email: [email protected]

Subject: The look at B-town is b-rate!

Message: Geez-Reading your blog is like reading the yellow pages. Could you put a few more ads in there? At least all I have to do is move on, no finding it clogging my porch or having to lug it to the recycle bin.

News I need. Junk ads I don’t!


Seems Derek forgot one little thing – when you email a website, your IP address is recorded. A simple IP Address lookup of revealed that good ol’ Derek actually sent this directly from within Fisher Broadcasting:

Now we won’t get into any kind of flame war with Derek, since it clearly wouldn’t be fair, but we would like to point out one thing to KOMO, as well as our Readers and Advertisers:


I’m sure that many of our Advertisers are already very familiar with KOMO’s practices – since KOMO apparently posted numerous placeholder/make-believe ads WITHOUT EVEN ASKING THE BUSINESSES USED IN THE ADS, then called them to “sell” them the very placeholder ad(s) they had already posted – not to mention calling BTB Advertisers directly and asking them to cancel their accounts with us and go with them.

Now comes this ill-advised email from within Fisher/KOMO, telling us that our website is full of “junk ads,” which insults the very businesses they want to do business with!

Does this Escher-esque irony crack anyone else up as much as it does me?

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19 Responses to “An Open Letter To KOMO And Fisher Broadcasting”
  1. Jennifer says:

    Classic KOMO shenanigans. Scott, thank you for the informative story, though I have been put off by KOMO for some time now, due to treatment of personnel. We love the blog and like to see the ads of local businesses. Keep up the good work, from a true Burienite, born and raised!!

  2. David Ketcherside says:

    I decided a long time ago that if I wanted real local news I would have to get it from sources like the b-town blog and the Highline times. Other local print and television news sources are in trouble and this just goes to show why they don’t get it.
    The sad thing is is that people like Derek will never get it. He’ll put down these news sources, discount them publicly and scoff at posts like this. But he still wont get it.

  3. Kellie Thorne says:

    As a new Burien-ite (from the vote to annex S. Highline, which I supported!) I’ve really come to enjoy the B-town Blog. Even though I know a cool news editor at KOMO, I guess I won’t be watching them anymore if they are going to be doing THAT kind of funny business! It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the movie, but something reminds me of Weird Al’s movie, UHF here…copy a small-town idea then try to drive them out of business. Unlike UHF, how unentertainingly LAME!

  4. Mike says:

    HA! HA! I love it-just one more reason for me to not watch KOMO!!!

  5. I’m not sure who Derek is but I’ve never put down any local blog. We have Fisher employees that live in Burien and we’ve also been in contact with businesses on our sites. We are being attacked by every blog that has a business model. Again, we’ve been in this community for decades. We raise thousands dollars for charities every year and we are very proud of our coverage in this community. In the past years, we have won national awards for our journalism. We have hundreds of thousands of viewers that watch us everyday and we get millions of page views on, making us one of the top local news sites in the Puget Sound. My point : we are already a credible source of news in Burien. We’ve offered partnerships with any local blog to join us on projects or daily content. As for our content, I don’t believe a public meeting and us confirming it with one phone call is an exclusive story for any website. But I keep debating the same points. Again, if we come in 2nd to every blog that was here before we started, I’m fine with that or we can work together. What I can promise is that we will only get better as we add more resources and work with community groups to increase our communication and relationships. Burien and Fisher are both 100 years old. A town or business doesn’t survive that long unless both serve the community and in turn, supported by the community. We expect to continue our relationship with the community even if we can’t solidify relationships with bloggers trying to create a business.

    Troy McGuire
    Fisher Interactive
    [email protected]

    • Troy –

      I’m not sure you truly understand the gist of this editorial – I’m not complaining about “stealing news” here. I’m concerned with something you did not address at all – the ethics of STEALING ADVERTISERS, not only by using fake/dummy Ads, but by then calling the placeholder businesses and trying to sell them the Ad they never authorized in the first place.

      Oh, and add to that the ethics of then pursuing our Advertisers and asking them to cancel their accounts with us.

      Hate to toot my own horn here Mr. McGuire, but I’ve been in the media business since 1985, and have won national awards as well. I believe that a media or broadcasting company should NOT survive if they don’t have ethics. The idea to post placeholder/dummy Ads on your 44 local websites had to come from someone up high, or at least when the mockups were done the idea to keep them on was approved by an exec such as yourself.

      Claiming to support the community doesn’t mean acting like a con artist to local businesses. Burien is a small town, and word spreads fast when people act like that.

      On another note, I don’t recall ever receiving an invitation to work with KOMO’s Burien website. Guess I just must’ve missed that phone call eh?

      • We’ve been in contact with those businesses that were on the site for launch. We also plan to give alot more exposure to businesses as we branch into other content areas. With all that said and this may not matter, but I think your site is really good. It’s got a good vibe to it and your background makes you more than qualified. You should toot your own horn. So, sorry for the no call but consider this an invitation. There can be room for both of us and we can work together. I think we can help each other out.

  6. One more thing… no one from our company should have sent that note to you. I’m sure they were thinking that they were just sticking up for us but we don’t want to play that way.

  7. Mike says:

    So, the gist is that you are not upset over plagerism by a media mogul, your upset that one employee stated you had “Junk Ads”?

    • Mike – Using the term “plagiarism” to define using other news sources as “inspiration” is wrong, as long as the words aren’t copied exactly (it’s defined as “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”). Now while I definitely take a stand against it, the “borrowing” of news is so common that I’m not going to attack KOMO for that (until of course they steal one of our exclusive stories without attribution/linking).

      No…the thing I’m taking a strong stand against is the unethical business practices they’re doing with local businesses and our Advertisers. Troy says they were “in contact” with the businesses used as dummy Ads? Hmmm…I can name at least two who were totally surprised that their logos were used in an UNAUTHORIZED way. How did you “contact” them Troy?

      I’ve written a lot of comedy in my life, so I’d love to hear that explanation…ha.

      • Isn’t it interesting that Troy suddenly stopped commenting when I reminded him about the whole placeholder/unauthorized Advertising issue?

        “I’m Troy McClure. You may remember me from such films as ‘Ethics…Schmethics!’, ‘Fakeinator 4: Revenge Of The Small Burien Business Zombies’ or “The Fisher Fishes With Fake Bait!”

  8. Since the time and mail server IP of “Derek Smathers”‘ email are known, it should be trivial for Troy McGuire to ascertain who sent that email, and report back on what disciplinary action was taken, if any. And/or have the individual comment here on why they sent it.

  9. Tom Bourdage says:

    I believe you’ll find Mr McGuire down at the lake washing his bloodied shanks that you have been so expertly chewing up. Good work! I always applaud the ‘scrappy’ little dog chasing the big dog down the street with tail between the legs.

  10. Andrew says:

    Boo Ya! Nice Job

  11. Bonnie Taub says:

    I went on Komo’s Burien Blog and this is what I said:

    I LOVE the B-Town Blog! I live here in Burien and I read it every day! I also look at Komo’s news every day. What is the beef here? I don’t understand KOMO’s or any one that has made stupid comments about the B-Town blog. It is a wonderful local resource for my husband and I.

    Go pee in someone else’s sandbox!

    The response I got:

    Hey Bonnie,

    Are you against free speech?

    Maybe you should go live in China instead of the cesspool of illegal immigrant crime that is Burien.

    Now I don’t think this person lives in my town! Yes, we have our share of problems like any of the communites in the south sound, but to call my town a cesspool?

    These folks are taking this whole thing way too far!

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