I think this particular angle has been played out with a few previous examples, but I did want to post one final example of how common it appears for newspapers to copy stories from blogs without giving any credit at all. If Ian Shapira was upset that Gawker "only" gave him three links, I wonder what he feels about a long list of newspapers taking a story from a blog
and giving no credit at all (found via Mathew Ingram
). The story involves the news that the military is banning the use of certain social networks -- a story researched and broken on a blog by Noah Shachtman
, but in newspaper
, no such credit is given. As the original link above points out, this is part of an outdated view of "journalism":
This isn't the fault of any individual reporter. It's the fault of an outdated newspaper convention that equates proper referencing with an admission of professional failure. Before the internet, it was pretty easy to get away with slighting your colleagues. But now that everyone has GoogleNews at their fingertips, it looks like exactly what it is: churlish and archaic vanity. Everyone can see who got the story first. Not a single reader, I'll bet, will ever say, "Aha! Because Noah Shachtman got the story first, clearly Julian Barnes is an inferior reporter!"
I don't even think it's that big of a deal. But it's just how stories spread. No one "owns" the news. Giving credit where credit is due is a nice and neighborly (online) thing to do (which is why we always try to credit where we found a story or who alerted us to it), but in the grand scheme of things, it's pretty meaningless overall. It's pretty silly to suddenly be making a big deal of it -- and the only reason to do so appears to be some newspaper folks who can't figure out how to fix things, and instead are lashing out at anyone else who seems to be getting attention. First it was Craigslist. Then Google. Now blogs. But none of that actually solves the newspapers' problem of building business models for the twenty-first century.