By in Writing


Hypocrites. They stole my idea!

Recently I was invited to become a staff contributor for a web site which features (rather sensationalized) articles about the city of Montreal and what's happening on the streets. I had hoped that I could finally use my writing skills to earn some money. One catch however is that article ideas are examined ahead of time by the editorial staff and accepted or rejected as he sees fit. Contributors are warned up front that more ideas are rejected than accepted. Well and good.

Several days ago I suggested a potential article on the Geocaching outdoor game, only to have it rejected. I was told: "We don't let contributors make news. I sent this to our full time staff for review." This morning I noticed that another writer has posted an article about it, using almost the same wording for the title that I had suggested.

I am furious and I'm tempted to tell them that I can't in good faith work for a company where people steal others' ideas and take credit for them. Is this practice common in web writing?

This morning's comment from an editor concerning a bird-watching article idea I sent yesterday: "Rejected - Our audience is 18-24." Okay, so he's making a HUGE assumption that young people don't care about the natural world. Real smooth, dude.

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DanieGirl8587 wrote on July 20, 2015, 10:43 AM

I'm so sorry to hear they stole your idea and acting like it wasn't even a good idea to begin with. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable working with a company that did that to me.

Sailorchronos wrote on July 20, 2015, 12:01 PM

When I asked the editor if this was standard procedure I received the following: "The reason is we don't have contributors write news articles. If you don't want us using 'your ideas' don't pitch it because it will be transferred to the internal staff here." His reply still didn't answer my implied questions of WHY they don't allow this or why he thought that my idea was "news" and not a simple piece about a game/sport. I think since he appears to be not even 25 the man probably still has a lot to learn about common courtesy in these matters.

CoralLevang wrote on July 20, 2015, 1:35 PM

That really stinks. Integrity is extremely important to me. I would have to seriously consider whether or not I would continue to associate. I'm sorry you are having to go through this crap with them. emoticon :sad:

DWDavisRSL wrote on July 20, 2015, 3:17 PM

I would find out if the story was in the works before your suggestion and if it was not, protest that if they were going to reject your idea they shouldn't have used it themselves. And the fact that he sent the idea onto the full time staff for review seems to tell me that they took you idea and ran with it. You should at least have been given credit, if not compensation.

Sailorchronos wrote on July 20, 2015, 9:04 PM

After considering it for a while, I think it's not just the fact that they ran with my idea but they didn't ask my permission first to do so. From now on I'll be writing out my ideas ahead of time, so if they get rejected I'll post them to my own blog so that they're mine.

DWDavisRSL wrote on July 21, 2015, 7:58 AM

That is a good idea. You will retain copyright and if they use it you can go on their site and thank them for imitating you in the comments while posting a link to your story.