When Fake Ribs Are, Well … Faked Ribs

This popped up a while ago now, but VegNews grabbed an image from iStockPhotos, ran it through the magical Photoshop program and turned some lovely BBQ ribs into seitan vegan ribs.

Except, they got caught. Whoops.

A few days ago, VegNews publisher Joseph Connelly went on NPR to talk about what happened and what they’re doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Part of his reasoning is that, as a small publication, they have to cut some corners.

VegNews is a publication that gets by on a very small staff with a very small budget, and it’s simply a matter of – it was a matter at the time of cutting corners where we felt we had to cut corners.

Here’s my thinking, and I will admit this is completely biased based on my own background: if you don’t have a business model that will support running an honest and profitable business, then you don’t have much of a business, do you?

Harsh, yes. But if part of your business model incorporates willingly deceiving your customers, then maybe you shouldn’t be in business?

I really despise the whole microstock industry (in case you couldn’t tell). It’s bad for content creators (ugh, I hate that phrase), it’s bad for consumers and, in the end, I think it will be bad for publishers.

Being passionate about a topic, as I’m sure the staff and readers of VegNews are, is great. But not having a business model to support it means you’re running a hobby site, not a business.

That said, I applaud Connelly for what he says later in the interview:

We’re going to assemble a stock photo site of vegan images as part of this and hopefully make them available not just for our use but for, you know, NPR’s use if they’d like to.

Now they need to recognize the value of that library and license it accordingly with a clear explanation of the lineage of the images – who shot it, why it was shot, how it was shot and who gets the licensing fee for spending the time, energy and intellect it took to create those images. Don’t build something of value and then give it away – build something of value and make a profit off of it so you can continue building it.

(Thanks to Mike Daly for the link.)

Mark E. Johnson

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