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Does The NY Times Donate To Wikipedia For Being A Massive Source Of Information?

from the questions,-questions dept

Glyn Moody points us to an interesting analysis, by David Gerard, of yet another problem with the NY Times' moronic paywall: that it means the NY Times will be cited a lot less on Wikipedia, thereby handing over the "first draft of history" to other publications like The Guardian and the BBC.

But the even more interesting point comes after that:
Every journalist I've spoken to since 2006 uses Wikipedia as their handy universal backgrounder. Funnily enough, there's a distinct lack of donations to the Wikimedia Foundation from newspapers and media organisations. How much did the New York Times donate in the fundraiser?

We do this stuff for everyone to use and reuse. Journalists taking full advantage of this is absolutely fine. But claiming we should then pay the papers for the privilege is just a little odious.
Marcus Carab, who works in a newsroom, made a similar point in response to that article a few weeks ago when the NYTime's Bill Keller claimed that the Huffington Post was a "pirate site," in that newspaper reporters rely on tons of other sources that never get any credit, let alone payment (excuse Marcus' Canadianisms, he can't help it):
Forget the fact that pavement-pounding reporting is a form of aggregation from the public - newspapers actively aggregate from tonnes of published sources too. Every newsroom has a table covered in copies of every other newspaper in town - in case you missed something, or they got an angle you didn't, or you think one of the stories can be taken further. In addition to reporting, all journalists do research: they look up other articles on the topic, find past magazine interviews and pull data from published reports. Many science articles in newspapers are just summaries of journal articles.

And that's just what went on and still goes on in the traditional media ecosystem, amongst the old players. Newspapers actively aggregate from blogs too. Every journalist in entertainment or technology starts his morning looking for leads on blogs, and the first thing any reporter does when they get an assignment on a topic they aren't familiar with is look it up on Wikipedia.
So this raises a really good point about the silly claims from the NY Times and others about how they need to get paid, since they believe that they're the "originators" of the news. I do wonder how many of the people at the NY Times did contribute to Wikipedia? I would bet many of the folks who insist that their own work needs to be paid for by users, have in turn never once contributed to Wikipedia.

Information comes in all sorts of forms from all sorts of places. The NY Times is good at what it does. No one is denying that. But it's delusional in its thinking that it somehow is the piece of the puzzle that is worth the most here.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    The eejit (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 10:03am

    Warning: may contain sarcasm

    Clearly, Wikimedia aren't doing it right! THEY MUST BE PUN-err, PAID! YEAH! THAT'S THE ONE!

     

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  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 10:48am

    Oy

    So this raises a really good point about the silly claims from the NY Times and others about how they need to get paid, since they believe that they're the "originators" of the news.

    So true, and so wrong. They're 'originators' much like record labels are. And increasingly equally disposable.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 11:05am

    Mike, are you suggesting that Wikipedia is anything other than an open source of information?

    Are newspapers bound to only use the rules of "absolutely free and open information" when they publish their newspapers, or are they allowed to use the existing laws as they see fit to apply copyright, etc?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 11:09am

    Re:

    They're allowed to do what they see fit, just so long as they don't complain about being in an ecosystem. "Hey, what we do to them they're doing to us! That's not fair!"

     

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  5.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 11:30am

    Every journalist I've spoken to since 2006 uses Wikipedia as their handy universal backgrounder.

    What is also kind of funny is the amount of times I have seen commenters here on Techdirt completely disregard someone's argument because they used Wikipedia as source.

    I guess Wikipedia is more reliable then some people think.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 11:32am

    Re:

    The point hits!
    Reality hits!!
    You swing wildly and miss!
    You swing wildly and miss!
    The point hits.
    You died. DYWYPI?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 11:34am

    Re:

    >>I guess Wikipedia is more reliable then some people think.

    The trick to using Wikipedia is to never mention that your source of information is Wikipedia.

     

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  8.  
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    Floyd (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 11:35am

    I'm gonna laugh when the NY Times goes online only. They'll probably start asking for donations soon, too. Take the red pill, and wake up to reality already!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re:

    Except newspapers are not in that ecosystem. Wikipedia is very different, isn't it?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 11:39am

    I dispute the contention that the New York Times does a good
    job of the news. The paper contains outright political propaganda. You can often identify these stories by their distinctive weaselspeak. For example, an article saying that
    Climate Change is being widely criticized but does not provide
    an names for the critics, who are actually Rush Limbaugh and
    his clones.

    For more documentation, see www.dailyhowler.com

     

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  11.  
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    Fred Bauder (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re:

    Yes, with respect to Wikipedia plagiarism is mandatory.

     

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  12.  
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    Fred Bauder (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 11:56am

    Wages

    The New York Times hires good people and pays them well. They work hard and produce interesting original material. I don't have any problem with paying a modest subscription fee that I might not be willing to pay a typical newspaper which has little news, and that aggregated from others.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's one giant ecosystem.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 12:04pm

    So much of the rhetoric in this debate, particularly here, is centered on blurring the lines between newspapers, Wikipedia, bloggers, etc. This way, you don't have to feel bad about the demise of the NYT, because hey, they aggregate too.

    The mainstream media is falling to many of the same economic pressures as other media: it is a lot cheaper to do reporting if you never have to get up and leave your desk. It's even easier if you disclaim all responsibility by saying that you're not reporting, you're opinion blogging.

    I would vastly prefer if there were more reporters out there in the world with boots on the ground collecting facts as close to the source as possible. And if those reporters were held to high standards.

    Nobody seems interested in figuring out how to make that profitable, though. Everyone is too busy tripping over themselves heralding how awesome aggregation is, how everybody is doing it, how objectivity is a myth, how the emergent behavior of the crowd will cause decentralized reporting organically (backed up by little more than anecdotes), etc.

    It seems to me that the public at large undervalues good reporting and overvalues newsertainment-punditry. Or it can't tell the difference. In doing so, it undermines its own interests. This smacks very much of "you get the government you deserve." Who is served by that?

     

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  15.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re:

    The first rule of Wikipedia...

     

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  16.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Except newspapers are not in that ecosystem. Wikipedia is very different, isn't it?

    Newspapers are not in the information ecosystem?

    What ecosystem are they in? The one with wolves and bunnies in the forest?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No. Wikipedia is in the "assembled by the masses information dump with a cc license" ecosystem, and newspapers are generally in the publishing business, you know, publishing copyrighted stories.

    It's not quite the same thing, unless of course you squint your eyes a lot and consumer a fair amount of booze.

     

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  18.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    Nobody seems interested in figuring out how to make that profitable, though.

    That may be one of the more ridiculous statements. Plenty of us have been working hard to demonstrate all sorts of compelling and profitable business models.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re:

    And which of those compelling and profitable business models do not become more compelling and more profitable by doing less of the expensive, close-to-the source reporting and more of the aggregation that can be done in a locked room with a computer and an Internet connection?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No. Wikipedia is in the "assembled by the masses information dump with a cc license" ecosystem, and newspapers are generally in the publishing business, you know, publishing copyrighted stories.

    Ahhh..apparently another industry which really doesn't understand what business they are actually in.

    Kind of like the railroad industry thinking that they were in the railroad business when really it was the transportation business. The railroads were way behind the 8-ball when they started to get competition from trucking and didn't know how to react in a timely fashion because of it.

    Keep thinking like this and newspapers will become as about relevant as the town crier is nowadays.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 1:31pm

    The NY Times is good at what it does.

    That's expanding the meanings of both good and does, often the Times is crappy and the writers lazy.

     

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  22.  
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    bob, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 1:36pm

    reporting is aggregating

    Forget the fact that pavement-pounding reporting is a form of aggregation from the public - newspapers actively aggregate from tonnes of published sources too.


    Typical sophistry. There's a big difference between a reporter who spends hours, days or months on a story and some aggregator who spends minutes or even seconds. Heck, some so-called aggregators are completely automated.


    Society doesn't work if we don't reward the people who are doing the heavy lifting. To lump all of the checking and rechecking in the same general ballpark as some schmoe who copies a link and a big chunk of text is foolish. There's a big difference in their effort and there should be a big difference in how they share the fruits of this labor. If not, the real workers stop working.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's not quite the same thing, unless of course you squint your eyes a lot and consumer a fair amount of booze.

    I usually ignore typos, but that one is rather telling.

    The NY Times thinks it is in the business of providing news to consumers. Passive, dumb consumers who just buy what they are sold. And yes, that is part of the wider information ecosystem. But that part is shrinking, and the growth is in the interactive information system where active users (not passive consumers) get involved in spreading and rebutting information.

    Isn't that what you do, AC? Even though you fail miserably at the rebuttal part, I would put money that you spend much more of your time on TechDirt interacting with the writers and other commenters than you do passively reading the news from the NYT or any other newspaper than you can name. If you don't reply, I'll assume I'm right. If you do reply, you've proven I'm right.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    Re: reporting is aggregating

    Judith Miller totally agrees!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A typo? He's the same TAM who has typed "probably cause" at least 30 times.

     

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  26.  
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    cliff, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 3:39pm

    Going to all lengths to get the story...

    The way I look at it, the NYTimes spared no expense by being the only paper with a bureau in the afterlife so that their reporter could get a firsthand interview with Elizabeth Taylor immediately upon her arrival.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And which of those compelling and profitable business models do not become more compelling and more profitable by doing less of the expensive, close-to-the source reporting and more of the aggregation that can be done in a locked room with a computer and an Internet connection?

    Most of them, I would think. People find original reporting quite valuable. For those who can do it, it's hard to beat the business models those enable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 4:01pm

    Re: reporting is aggregating

    Society doesn't work if we don't reward the people who are doing the heavy lifting.

    False dichotomy. Who said anything about not rewarding the people doing the heavy lifting? That's where you're just making stuff up again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 4:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Most of them, I would think. People find original reporting quite valuable. For those who can do it, it's hard to beat the business models those enable.

    But people can get the exact same reporting, plus a lot of other stuff (community, commentary) from any of dozens of aggregator sites, often within minutes of it being released on the "original" source. Notwithstanding the fact that people seem to find good original reporting and much-cheaper punditry and demagoguery about equally valuable.

    If original reporting is so valuable, why aren't you hiring reporters?

     

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  30.  
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    Gregory Kohs, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 8:04pm

    David Gerard, and Fred Bauder too?

    Wow, the whole wacky Wikipedia gang is here. David Gerard is on display in the TechDirt lead, and Fred Bauder shows up in the comments. Who are these people? Look up on Google, "David Gerard's wedding" or maybe "Fred Bauder Colorado Supreme Court". These are Wikipedia's most tireless supporters. What does THAT say?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 24th, 2011 @ 12:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But people can get the exact same reporting, plus a lot of other stuff (community, commentary) from any of dozens of aggregator sites, often within minutes of it being released on the "original" source. Notwithstanding the fact that people seem to find good original reporting and much-cheaper punditry and demagoguery about equally valuable.

    I disagree with almost all of this. I don't think people find those things equally valuable when you're really talking about good reporting. I think the issue is that most reporting just isn't that good, so it doesn't engender a reaction of value.

    However, take a good piece in the Atlantic or the New Yorker, and you can bet that people are fascinated by the original work and will go to it.

    As for the claim that people can get the exact same thing, this is also false. The actual reporters aren't in those communities. That they're not in the communities that publish the original works is part of the problem, but I can write about Malcolm Gladwell all day here and the likelihood of him showing up to discuss is likely nil. But if he showed up and discussed stuff on the NYers website, people would come. In droves.

    You can't copy that.

    And that's the point. Focus on providing additional value that can't be copied. Then, the stuff that is copied only makes those "can't be copied" things more valuable.

    The more widespread a discussion about a particular article is, the more people would be interested in discussing it further with the original reporter.

    If original reporting is so valuable, why aren't you hiring reporters?


    Logical fallacy. That's not our business. Just because I describe what a good business is, it does not mean that I also need to pursue it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Richard (profile), Mar 24th, 2011 @ 4:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If you don't reply, I'll assume I'm right. If you do reply, you've proven I'm right.

    Ahh Morton's fork - nice!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Richard (profile), Mar 24th, 2011 @ 4:56am

    Re: Re:

    The trick to using Wikipedia is to never mention that your source of information is Wikipedia.

    Which is sort of true - because every Wikipedia article is supposed to include citations from another source. Wkipedia is never truly a source - rather it is a conduit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Paddy Duke (profile), Mar 24th, 2011 @ 7:51am

    Re:

    If the MSM is so good at high-standard, fact-checked, close-to-the-source journalism, why is that I and so many people I know don’t trust what we see or read in The News™ until we’ve seen it verified or refuted by several dozen unpaid bloggers and tweeters?

    No one journalist or paper can fact check as well as half a million interested members of the public, whether they have to leave their desks to do it or not.

    When I do read the the websites of newspapers and major news organisations, I value the opinion pieces more highly than the ubiquitous 'The government/BPI/self serving industry group has announced...' re-edited press releases that have become the norm for most journalists.

    If mainstream news was as good and relevant as it claims to be, people would read it. And if the vast majority of people are so stupid that they would rather read "newsertainment-punditry", then the obvious solution for the newspapers struggling to make ends meet is to produce that kind of news.

    Trying to tell people that what they want is the wrong thing is rarely a good business strategy, no matter how noble the intention.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    David Gerard (profile), Mar 24th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    Clarification

    The bit I was talking about in "claiming we should then pay the papers for the privilege is just a little odious" was this quote from Noam Cohen of the NYT:
    So, in essence, many Wikipedia articles are another way that the work of news publications is quickly condensed and reused without compensation.

    - i.e., Cohen was calling Wikipedia a bunch of thieves for daring to use the NYT as a reference source. o_0

    I and others directly questioned him on this at the time, but he didn't answer. I presume he stands by this opinion. See if you can get him to expand on it, I've always wanted to know how he justifies that one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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