What we can't understand is the cheesy self-promotion of a copyright bug since all material in newspapers is implicitly copyrighted anyway.

"It was a conscious decision," according to Phil Bronstein, executive editor at the Ex, who said he couldn't recall whether he or some other editor had actually ordered the bug be put on Matthews' stories. "We're not the New York Times. We don't pretend to be the New York Times in terms of scope," so the copyright notice "causes other media to think if they're going to lift the story." The Times, which fumbled the Watergate story the first time around, ran a 164-word Reuters dispatch out of S.F., which did credit the Ex.

Washington Post National News Editor Howard Kurtz termed the copyright bug "a small bit of hype" that had no bearing on the Post's decision to credit Matthews and noted that the paper had done it "as a professional courtesy."

What a concept.

Phyllis Orrick and Susan Rasky can be reached at SF Weekly, Attn: Unspun, 425 Brannan, San Francisco, CA 94107; phone: (415) 536-8139; e-mail: porrick@sfweekly.com.

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