Blogging magazine articles

July 20, 2009

Yvette Kantrow has a truly astonishing parenthetical in her peculiar piece on the CJR, Goldman Sachs, and Matt Taibbi:

Audit writer Ryan Chittum said his site’s silence had nothing to do with Goldman but everything to do with the fact that Rolling Stone was slow to put the entire Taibbi piece online. (It was a complaint lodged by many bloggers, who apparently did not want to shell out $5.95 at the newsstand. How sad for magazines.)

Chittum is more than capable of defending himself on the merits. But where on earth does Kantrow get the idea that financial bloggers should be perfectly happy to pay $5.95 to read Taibbi’s article on paper?

I get a lot of stuff sent to me, for free, which is normally behind some kind of subscription firewall: controlled-circulation magazines, research reports, paysite passwords, that sort of thing. I very rarely blog any of it, because I feel like an idiot blogging something which my readers can’t read. (For that reason, I try to link to WSJ articles via Google, to minimize the chances of my readers running into a firewall.)

So, yes, Chittum could have gone out and spent $6 on the paper version of Taibbi’s article. But then what would he have done? He’s a blogger, and you can’t link from your blog to a magazine sitting on your bedside table. What’s more, when you blog an article you generally want to quote from it, which is always much easier when you can copy-and-paste.

It’s entirely reasonable, then, for bloggers in general, and Chittum in particular, to wait until there was an easy and legitimate way for readers to read the article before blogging it. A blog without a hyperlink is a sad and sorry thing, and most decent bloggers will try pretty hard to avoid writing such a thing.

(Incidentally, both Kantrow and Chittum truncate their RSS feeds. Come on, people! Get with the program!)


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