Updates and Changes Coming to the McKinley Park News

Published August 30, 2023

Greetings Readers, Friends and Fans of the McKinley Park News!

I hope that you and yours have enjoyed an excellent summer! I’m happy to report we’re emerging from our temporary publishing hiatus, including (finally!) putting into action lots of back-end work for upgrades of the McKinley Park News website and business.

Accordingly, there will be some times this week and weekend when the McKinley Park News website is unavailable, or you might encounter some changes and funkiness while we kick the tires on our new user interface framework.

Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel

Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel.

After this process, our publication, and all of our features and freely available news and events information, will remain online for you and other local news readers, with a bit more spit and polish, and ease of access.

Step by step, we’ll also be rolling out long-planned feature upgrades, as well as returning to a regular news publishing schedule.

Login Or Not?

I’ve been considering whether to put our content behind a free login wall in order to protect it from AI theft of our Service. This would mean that you’d have to sign up for a free membership, and then log in, to access our original news reporting.

However, this would impact our online traffic and advertising potential, as well as make it more difficult for community members to find and access our McKinley Park neighborhood news and information.

What do you think? I wouldn’t make a big change like this without feedback from our user and member community: If you have thoughts on keeping McKinley Park News reporting free and open, versus closed behind a login wall (but still free), please share it with us by posting a comment below or sending me email.

Anyone Know a Lawyer​?

Part of my behind-the-scenes labor this summer has been attempting, unsuccessfully, to find an attorney to help us demand that AI services powered by Large Language Models (LLMs) — and their customers — stop stealing from us.

It’s been tough, because this is a bleeding-edge frontier of law with little direct precedent that few attorneys know how to handle. Most expert media lawyers can’t help us due to conflicts of interest: They’re already working for one of the many LLM entities seemingly stealing from us, or for enterprises and institutions using these now-widespread AI services that were built on stolen goods.

Undermining Our Livelihood

Unfortunately, journalism institutions that are supposed to have our back — as well as some members of the news community — have also adopted, used and promoted AI-powered services without consideration of their provenance and the damage this theft does to local news publishers.

Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel

Even an exhaustive “sustainability audit” we just concluded with one of our professional organizations glossed over the primary and existential problem that our work is being stolen and then used in competing services to undermine our local journalism business and livelihood.

Bubbly Creek Spring Water

Instead of helping journalism, too many of its scions are instead racing to climb the AI exploitation pyramid, securing their own spots near the top before this wave of AI theft completely cuts the legs off working journalists at the bottom. These “journalism AI experts” willfully ignore the larceny their new careers are built upon.

If you don’t think this lawless technology will be used to fire more journalists, further decimate newsrooms and cripple independent publications like the McKinley Park News, I’d love to speak to you about an early investment opportunity in Bubbly Creek Spring Water.

1990s All Over Again

It is disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, that so many of journalism’s supposed protectors are betraying our industry.

I feel like it’s the 1990s all over again, when the news industry had a chance to capitalize on new information technology that fit so well with its product. But too many listened to self-anointed, self-serving, unqualified mouthpieces and their poor advice, leaving us with today’s journalism landscape: an industry teetering on ruin.

No Choice But to Fight

Many have advised me to abandon my effort to stop these big tech businesses from stealing from us. Believe me: There’s nothing I’d rather do than solely focus on publishing our neighborhood’s news and trying to build a livelihood from it.

However, we remain completely alone, despite a summer’s worth of outreach and advocacy through every conceivable channel. I’d love to get some support, but no one is helping or advocating for us, or for other independent news publishers that have their services purloined for others’ profit.

Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel.

Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel

Even if we have to go it alone, we have no choice but to fight: We simply won’t have a news business any more if all the reporting we do is stolen and used in services that compete directly against us … and that cost a lot less to publish because they don’t have to do their own reporting.

The Future Is Now

Other independent news publishers are already seeing AI-powered competitors that mine and mirror their own news, just laundered through a Large Language Model engine so the words aren’t quite the same.

This hasn’t happened to the McKinley Park News yet, but it’s only a matter of time: Our service is seemingly valuable enough to be purloined en masse by LLMs to power AI chat bots. Eventually these services will be automated for easy point-and-click plagiarism from every online news source.

Will You Join Us?

In the interest of looking for allies, I’d like to invite any other concerned independent news publishers to contact me if you’re interested in collaborating on advocacy and action against this existential threat to our livelihoods and industry. Our journalism institutions and leaders have failed us, so we’re going to have to fix this ourselves.

To our readers, supporters, fans and friends, I can’t thank you enough for your past and ongoing help and engagement, as well as your patience and encouragement as we lurch forward, overcoming these and other slings and arrows that harm your local news.

I also can’t wait to get out in the neighborhood more as our family’s personal domicile gets completed: Our “forever home” in McKinley Park is taking forever to get rebuilt!

I wish all the best to you and yours. Cheers!

Justin Kerr
Publisher, McKinley Park News

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