Mainstream Newspapers 'Rip Off' Blogs Too, You Know…
from the it's-not-just-one-way... dept
Last month, we wrote about a new study that basically showed that independent bloggers and the mainstream press had a rather nice symbiotic relationship, with different stories flowing back and forth across the two. Oddly, the NY Times misinterpreted the study to claim that it showed that bloggers were “behind” the mainstream press on stories, but the details showed a very different story. It’s no surprise that a mainstream publication would portray the study this way, but it makes it even more amusing when that same publication is then caught using a story from a blog as well, without doing any additional reporting.
Now, before we get into the details, I want to be absolutely clear: I don’t think there is anything wrong with this at all. You can’t (and shouldn’t be able to) copyright facts, and having multiple versions of a story written up from multiple perspectives is a good thing in my book. But with some, such as the Marburgers, insisting that its these independent sites acting as “parasites” and you have Ian Shapira and his editors at the Washington Post complaining about Gawker supposedly “ripping off” one of Shapira’s articles, it’s worth noting that this happens all the time in the other direction as well.
Eric Goldman alerts us to a blog post by writer/blogger Kashmir Hill, where she talks about how the NY Times did the exact same thing that Shapira accuses Gawker of doing to a blog post she wrote for the blog AboveTheLaw. The story is actually one that we blogged about as well (and linked to the AboveTheLaw version, along with two other blogs that led us to the original story), concerning a professor who gave his class an assignment to see what sort of private info they could find online about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (following Scalia’s claim that there was no need to protect privacy online).
It was an interesting story that got plenty of attention, and involved real reporting by Hill, including talking to both the professor and actually getting a quote from Scalia via the Supreme Court. From there, a bunch of mainstream sources, starting with ABC News, but also including the NY Times wrote up their own versions of the story. They did no real additional reporting. They did cite AboveTheLaw as the source, but also used quotes directly from Hill’s piece.
Again, this seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do — but according to Shapira, this is the NY Times “ripping off” Hill and according to the Marburgers, this is the NYTimes acting as a “parasite.” Does it occur to either of them that this is just part of how news is written about these days? Stories originate in all sorts of places, and then go through a variety of different sources.