The Day The WSJ Attributed My Quote To Someone Else
from the corrections... dept
What interested me, however, is how the WSJ would respond. Crovitz told me that the paper version had already gone out, but that he had asked the Journal to fix the web version. So I watched during the course of the day to see if it happened. As of me writing this, it still attributes the quote to Thierer. Around noon on Monday, I had some fun and tweeted that the WSJ had quoted me, but attributed my quote to someone else. Following that tweet, Priya Ganapati, an editor at the WSJ tweeted back asking which story. I pointed it out, but didn't hear anything back. As I said, as of this posting, the story still has not been updated.
Again, this really is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. The quote was nothing special. I've been quoted in the WSJ before and perhaps I'll be quoted in the future (well, perhaps not after this post!). Three things, however, struck me as interesting about this: (1) how much time it appears to take to get the WSJ to correct such things and (2) how people likely would have reacted if this had gone in the opposite direction and (3) why "links" are a good thing.
Imagine if I had misquoted a story in the WSJ on Techdirt. Within minutes, I can assure you, our comments would be full of people pointing it out (and probably accusing me of purposely misleading people). And, hopefully, soon after that, I would have corrected the mistake and apologized for it. And, that's what I consider to be a good thing: as I said, I make mistakes. Plenty of them. But the community here makes for pretty damn good fact checkers, and they work hard at keeping me honest. It's something I appreciate. One commenter, Ryan Radia, did mention the mistake in his own comment on the WSJ article, but I believe it was after my tweet (Ryan follows me on Twitter). But there has been no response to that comment as of me writing this.
Finally, this highlights the value of links. While not possible in the paper version, it would have been quite easy for the Wall Street Journal to link to my blog post where I made that quote, which would have made it clear for anyone who clicked the link to see who actually wrote the story. Of course, that would require admitting that the quote had simply been pulled from a blog, and the article at least leaves the impression that Crovitz spoke with Thierer to get the quote.
Now, of course, the WSJ is a big newspaper with lots of busy people doing things more important than getting a misattributed quote fixed. But in an era when we keep hearing how important the big legacy press is, and how bloggers have some sort of "lower standards" when it comes to their own efforts, it strikes me that this is an example of where that's simply not true. We both might have made that mistake, but it's likely that I would have first linked to the source material in question and would likely (I hope!) have been faster to correct it. This isn't to say that blogs are "better," but to challenge the idea that the big newspapers automatically have higher standards on these sorts of things.