A month ago, we wrote about a column by Connie Schultz, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, supposedly talking up a a plan to change copyright law
to better protect newspapers from "parasites." This was a dumb plan no matter how you look at it, and Schultz ended up in a battle of words with Jeff Jarvis that kind of derailed the actual discussion on the plan itself. As we noted recently, the brothers behind the plan, David and Daniel Marburger, contacted us (well David did) to let us know that Schultz had totally misrepresented their plan. So we took a look at the full plan, and, indeed, Schultz's column was simply wrong in describing their plan. While we still think
the Marburgers' actual plan is misguided, Schultz's write up of it was not at all accurate.
Schultz summarized the Marburgers' plan like this:
- Aggregators would reimburse newspapers for ad revenues associated with their news reports.
- Injunctions would bar aggregators' profiting from newspapers' content for the first 24 hours after stories are posted.
Neither point is actually in the Marburgers' plan (and, it's important to note that the Marburgers are only talking about a very, very narrow range of "aggregators" which I don't even think count as aggregators). They talk about sites like The Daily Beast
, which is a competing publication more than an "aggregator." They make it clear that they think real aggregators like Google News are only a good thing. Also, they flat out do not
suggest a 24-hour block makes sense:
1. We do not advocate a statutory 24-hour moratorium on rewriting news reports originated by others. Like you, we'd vigorously oppose that.
2. We do not think that linking to originators' news sites, as Google News does, is bad; on balance, we think it's good for any news originator.
So why bring this up again? Well, it seems Schultz can't leave well enough alone, and has to poke "bloggers" again as being some sort of anti-journalists. In her most recent column she talks up how real journalists fact-check
and "citizen-journalist" bloggers do not:
The so-called citizen journalism of most blogs is an affront to those of us who believe reporting and attribution must precede publication.
Fact-checking is tedious; it often derails juicy rumor and deflates many a story.
So... um... why is it that she got her facts wrong and it was blogs
that published the full story on the Marburgers' plan? Meanwhile, it was her high-minded colleagues at the Cleveland Plain Dealer who brushed off all the criticism of Schultz
by declaring: "It's really a bunch of pipsqueaks out there (on the Internets) talking about what the real journalists do."
In the end, we have an original story that Schultz continues to stand behind, despite it being incorrect. You have a number of bloggers who have been digging into the details, and posting thoughtful analyses of the Marburgers' plan -- while the folks at the Plain Dealer brush them off as "pipsqueaks" who don't fact check? Yeah, that's credible...
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm not one of those who thinks there's some sort of war brewing between "mainstream media" and "bloggers." I actually find the whole concept silly. Blogs are simply a publishing platform. Some use them for journalism (including many mainstream media publications). Others don't. Lumping them all together makes no sense. But pretending that old school journalists have some sort of higher ground to stand on just because they work for a publication that prints itself out on paper doesn't make much sense to me.