Houston Business Journal to school spokesman: Buy a subscription if you want to read what you told us

Houston schools spokesman Jason Spencer was recently interviewed by a Houston Business Journal reporter about an upcoming bond referendum.

Jason Spencer

“When I asked her to send me a copy of the story after it was published, I was told I’d have to subscribe because their publication places all content behind a pay wall,” he tells Romenesko readers.

Spencer, a former Houston Chronicle education reporter, was surprised to hear that.

“I’ve found that other media outlets that use a pay wall will email me copies of stories if they’ve used information I provided,” he says. “Do the people who are quoted in news stories have a right to see those stories soon after they’ve been published in order to verify their views were accurately presented?” (Business Journal stories are free online after 30 days.)

Spencer sent me his email exchange with Business Journal editor B. Candace Beeke. She told him:

First, a new policy allows you to purchase just the edition in which the story ran. You can do that online by clicking on the story.

B. Candace Beeke

HBJ enforces this policy to protect the work we do and our intellectual property. Anyone who purchases the story or paper gets a copy that protects our licensing.

Our newsroom also is prohibited from sending out free copies of the work we do to protect the investment our readers make in receiving our products. I appreciate your understanding.

Spencer’s response:

So, you’re telling me I have to pay to read how you report the information I provide your reporters? I will keep this in mind in the future. Thank you.

I’ve invited the editor to elaborate on her paper’s policy. Houston Business Journal — a part of the American City Business Journals — is owned by the Newhouse family’s Advance Publications.

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