More Double Standards On Journalist Entitlement

from the wait-a-second... dept

We’ve been hearing all of these stories about the importance of extending copyright further over news content and how mainstream publications can’t handle other publications acting as “parasites” — using their news without paying…. And at the same time, there seems to be a huge double standard. Apparently people are questioning the journalistic ethics of ESPN for offering to pay $500 for the Lebron James dunk video, which made some news recently when James supposedly tried to suppress it.

However, the bigger point here is: smaller publications are considered parasites for rewriting a story from a major publication leading people to put forth proposals that these sites pay the original publication. But… when it comes to a video from an independent entity, it’s suddenly an ethics violation to pay the copyright holder? In the first case you have company A (the major publication) demanding money from company/person B (the indie publication) for “using” their work. In the second case you have people saying that it’s unethical for company/person B to get money from company A for using their work.

Can someone please explain how that’s not a double standard?

When the mainstream publication is reporting it’s unethical to pay for copyrighted material? But when another publication writes a story (not copies it, even) based on reporting from a mainstream publication, it’s suddenly a violation? By the mainstream publications’ own reasoning, wouldn’t accepting money from these “parasites” be just as unethical? After all, those smaller publications would now be paying for news, which apparently is incredibly unethical in the mainstream journalism book…

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “More Double Standards On Journalist Entitlement”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, I have to say that this is one of the most confusing non-stories I have seen in ages. It almost seems like you are reaching trying to use terms like parasites and ethics. Once again, this sort of seems like one of your themes of the month, but this story seems to be entirely a non-story.

Don’t reach, it makes you look desperate.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Mike, I have to say that this is one of the most confusing non-stories I have seen in ages. It almost seems like you are reaching trying to use terms like parasites and ethics. Once again, this sort of seems like one of your themes of the month, but this story seems to be entirely a non-story.

Neither parasites nor ethics were words used initially by me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Perhaps it points out that you need a little better layout for your blog – it’s hard to seperate your words from the words of others, even though I see “parasites” twice and parasites once (without quotes) in the post, there is no way to tell if the words are yours or theirs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

They often use the word “parasites” so he’s pointing out that by their own standards they can be considered parasites. Why do so many people (specifically those who disagree with Mike but not necessarily) seem to not only lack common sense but they seem to have basic reading comprehension problems.

Mike, ignore these people. Don’t feed the trolls, they are only trying to make your life more difficult (on purpose). It’s not that they’re stupid, they’re just malicious and/or selfish and you pointing out the facts conflicts with their selfish agenda.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Mike, I have to say that this is one of the most confusing non-stories I have seen in ages.”

I have to say, you are easily confused.

“but this story seems to be entirely a non-story.”

Apparently you allege this to be true about all stores you disagree with despite your apparent inability to comprehend anything you read.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ok, I’m going to take back my comment on Jul 29th,
Jul 29th, 2009 @ 9:20pm

I apologize. I have a quick to respond before checking the facts problem.

I eventually bothered to click the link and I think Mike is indeed confused here. EPSN offered $500 for the video but the seller didn’t want to sell it for that much and instead sold it for more. Someone is accusing EPSN for violating ethical standards for only offering $500 and not more. However, EPSN never said that it is unethical to not give them the story for a cheaper price. On this one I have to side with ESPN. It’s a free market, if someone doesn’t want to sell their product at a certain price there is nothing wrong with offering. Worst they can do is say no, nothing unethical conducted on either side and ESPN never seems to have said otherwise.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I eventually bothered to click the link and I think Mike is indeed confused here. EPSN offered $500 for the video but the seller didn’t want to sell it for that much and instead sold it for more. Someone is accusing EPSN for violating ethical standards for only offering $500 and not more.

No. That is incorrect. The complaint about ethics is about whether or not it’s ethical for a respected journalist site to “buy” a story. The exact quote on the link is:

“The bigger question is whether ESPN broke serious ethical boundaries by offering $500 for a story, something that is a typical no-no among journalists.”

For more info on how this is considered a no-no:

which notes:

“Most newsgathering organizations do not allow reporters and editors to pay sources for tips or quotes”

which notes:

“It is rare–perhaps even unprecedented–for a member of the “respectable” press to trade information for cash” and also talks about the “ethical shitstorm” from a journalist admitting he paid sources.

“We know that news organizations do not generally pay for information from sources. The reason is that paying sources compromises the credibility of a news report. The source and the check-writing journalist enter into the world of quid pro quo.”

On page 187 of that book (Groping for Ethics in Journalism) it notes that it’s frowned upon in the US to pay for sources.,+ethics,+paying,+sources&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Page 115 has a whole discussion on the ethics of “checkbook journalism.”

The practice is widely frowned upon. That’s what the original comment was about.

jakerome (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A video is neither a "tip" nor a "quote"

News organizations have a long history of paying license media, from photographs to videos, for documentation of newsworthy events. That’s completely different than paying someone to provide a quote or to supply privileged information. The videographer owned the copyright to the video, and was of course free to sell it to anyone he wished.

I think that’s an important difference here, and I’d like to see a reputable reference that claimed it was unethical for journalists to pay for photos or videos. I mean, Getty Images has a very nice business licensing stock photography to news organizations. Is it OK to buy from Getty but not from an individual?

Peter says:

Because it's two different people?

It’s a double standard only if it’s the same person calling it an ethics violation and demanding payment. In this case – it’s not. One person wants to see money change hands, one doesn’t. Your article would have much more accurately been titled ‘two people in the world disagree with eachother – I’m going to pretend they’re the same person because they’re both attached somehow to the same industry’.

Anonymous Coward says:

not to put too fine a point on it, but posting that Mike is reaching by putting this op-ed (thats what it is) on his site is pretty much… well, dumb.

not that im the defender of all things Mike, but if all you have to say is “thats not news, thats not anything, you suck” then all i can really say is

“hey there… pot? yeah, its kettle”

and yes as a matter of fact i include everything i just said in that situation.

Enigmatic (profile) says:

No double standards at all

No, its not a double standard at all, but a failure to understand the intention behind the major corporations perception of these two issues.

In all cases, in all ways, and at all times, whatever is to the benefit of the major corporation will be considered by DEFAULT to be “right”, and anything which may detract or take from the corporation in any way will automatically by default be considered “wrong”.

When you hold this perspective the double standard evaporates as in both cases the corporation believes it is right to ask money of others while at the same time saying its wrong for anyone BUT the corporation themselves to exploit others for gain.

Sadly however, this is an extension of normal human behaviour, whereby we tend to justify our own actions against others, yet condemn the very same actions by others taken against us….

Aren’t human beings wonderful 🙂

ChasW says:

I think it is less a double standard and, yet again, a complete misunderstanding of the state of journalism.

The problem being: news organizations don’t see bloggers as journalists.

Therefore, they don’t see a problem with them paying to “republish” news. In their eyes, these bloggers, or what have you, who are aggregating, using, and paraphrasing their stories are not journalists and they aren’t being held to any kind of “code” that the news organizations would normally hold a journalist to. In their eyes, they are adding nothing, are repurposing, and are, they believe, profiting off of their original articles.

When you look at it from this, completely wrong, viewpoint, there is no double standard. Some guy is taking what you wrote and copying onto his website. He’s not a journalist. He’s just some schmuck making millions (millions I say!) from your hard work!

But, when a journalist pays for news, he is sullying himself and the news he’s reporting on. That’s a totally different matter. That’s the way I’m sure they see it at least.

Now, there are really good arguments that sources should not be paid, and I’m mostly in agreement with them. It can definitely lead to questioning whether or not a source’s information is accurate when they get paid to have information and hand it over. That’s totally different, of course, from what ESPN did with the video, of course, so I don’t see the connection here, but the overall issue stands. ESPN was paying for proof, not paying some guy who was there to make a statement that it happened. Totally different scenarios.

Anyway, that’s where the big difference is: the corporations complete misunderstanding of what news is becoming in general. It all relates back to that.

Enigmatic (profile) says:

Re: Typical Journalists

So what you are saying ChasW is that the Journalist believes they are the only people who can give you the news and thus should be the only people who get paid for it.

If they write it, you pay for it, if someone else writes it then they don’t have to pay for it because it isn’t good enough until they have altered it, thus becoming news.

This sounds very much like what I said above conceptually. To them there is no double standard because they are the ONLY standard and thus are the only ones who believe are allowed to make valid statements. If they say its wrong, then its wrong to them and a double standard can never come into it because they can’t see passed their own expanded heads.

What I find totally hilarious in all of this is that some “bloggers” out there (who btw do what they do for FREE) have a far larger following than journalists who get paid to do what they do. If the art of journalism is to “accurately” report the news, then surely the popularity of a journalist would be measured in how accurate they are. Funny enough, accuracy is only a small component, and its the “way” in which it is conveyed which is more important because we not only want to be informed but also entertained.

In this respect any man or dog can write, and any man or dog can become popular. While there may be great skill involved, it doesn’t automatically equate to popularity and thus isn’t seen as a valuable commodity. For them to effectively “de-value” another person (paid or otherwise) purely because of his status or a piece of paper on his wall or the title on his paycheck smacks of elitism.

Sometimes I think these journalists forget that no matter how good they are, they are always reporting THEIR PERSPECTIVE on something… its never the accurate and factual truth (easily seen in their dubious choice of adjectives), yet they somehow think themselves to be somehow ‘above’ the average man in his ability to inform and convey something to a wider audience.

I just point and laugh…

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...