Does The New York Times Think It’s Above Linking To The Blogosphere?
Did the New York Times just discover the Internet? The answer is obviously no — even a cursory glance at their excellent website is proof they are head and shoulders above all other mainstream publications when it comes to an online presence. But still. It’s hard to read Clark Hoyt’s fisking of last month’s Zachary Kouwe’s plagiarism debacle (of “pretty banal stuff”) and not be struck by the utter lack of understanding Internet media culture. Namely, linking! It is not brain surgery.
Get this from Hoyt:
In January, Dealbreaker, a competing Web site, scored a scoop by posting an internal Citigroup memo about a rumored joint venture. The same memo soon went up on DealBook, complete with two minor alterations that Dealbreaker had inserted as a trap to catch competitors ripping off material without credit. Dealbreaker’s editor, Bess Levin, posted a gotcha. I called and asked her what happened next. She said got a call from Andrew Ross Sorkin, the editor of DealBook, who explained that Kouwe had verified the memo with Citigroup and was going to get his own copy. Rather than wait, Kouwe grabbed it from her site, she said Sorkin told her. Sorkin immediately ordered an editors’ note inserted in the DealBook item that gave credit and explained what happened.
Sorkin said Kouwe had told him “it was an honest mistake. I told him that it was unacceptable, but I had no reason to believe it represented a larger problem.”
You know what would have solved that problem? A link to begin with. (Also, spell check…Levin is not the first to come up with that plan.) The New York Times is no longer operating in an ivory tower free from all obligation to acknowledge the workings of the blogosphere, something they might do well to remember especially in cases like this one gets the sense there may be as much ego involved as sloppy reporting. Linking should not be considered a sign of laziness, but smart blogging. And to be fair, many of the blogs on the NYT.com are much freer about attributing…something that clearly works to the benefit of both parties. Especially when reporters are required to work at the frantic pace of the blogosphere, as is the case at DealBook where Kouwe was stationed.
Meanwhile, Felix Salmon thinks the problem is the NYT putting people with no blog experience in the blogosphere.
Big mainstream-media publications, when they hire people to write their blogs, generally hire people with no blogging experience at all — something which is both ill-conceived and dangerous. Some journalists make good bloggers; most don’t. So rather than gamble that you’ve found one of the rare exceptions, why not make prior blogging experience a prerequisite for such positions?
The fundamental problem with Kouwe was that when he saw good stories elsewhere, he felt the need to re-report them himself, rather than simply linking to what he had found, as any real blogger would do as a matter of course.
Fair enough. Though I suspect it’s probably a combination of the two. As I said, linking is not brain surgery.
Related: NYT Business Reporter Resigns Over Charges Of Plagiarism [Mediaite]
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