This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Media Unspun email newsletter and is Copyright 2002 by Keith Dawson.
M E D I A   U N S P U N
Yodeling All the Way to the Bank

Few outlets can resist a story about a litigating yodeler. A singer from Dusty, Wash., sues Yahoo for overusing the trademarked yodel he recorded for them in 1996, and the Internet giant capitulates in a day. Cowboy crows, "Yahoo!" Sample headline, from the L.A. Times: "The fastest settlement in the West."

Country-western singer Wylie Gustafson would not reveal how much Yahoo settled for, but told an Associated Press reporter, "I am very happy and it won't change my life." He told the L.A. Times' Lisa Girion that the settlement was "enough to feed my (10) hungry horses this winter."

CNET's played the story straight and sober, concluding with a statement that had to have been crafted by his lawyer: "I'm very happy with the speed and ease that Yahoo settled with me," Gustafson said. "It was a fair settlement that reflected (the yodel's) worldwide use." This does not sound like the man who told SFGate that the story of the lawsuit's filing "spread like a prairie fire in a 40-mile-an-hour wind."

The Register overused Yahoo's exclamation point in its headline, as it does regularly. The Reg also thoughtfully provided a link to the singer's Web site. Gustafson's almost-hometown paper, the Spokane Spokesman Review, may have filed the earliest coverage of the settlement. Reporter Doug Clark claimed that Gustafson called on Sunday evening to yodel for him. Clark's piece provided plenty of local color, for example mentioning that Dusty has a population of 12. The Spokesman Review was alone among the coverage Unspun saw in running an AP photo of the singer in mid-jump (and presumably, mid-yodel). The paper captioned the photo thus: "Wylie Gustafson, leader of the Wylie & the Wild West band, makes the joint jump with his old-fashioned country tunes. Now he's made those city slickers at Yahoo jump to pay him for rustling his yodel." - Keith Dawson

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