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By: ChrisNicholson Mon, 14 Jun 2010 16:41:04 +0000 speaking of bad blog policy, the overzealous folks at ctnews have “archived or suspended” the teri buhl piece you linked to. It’s not cached in google any more either.

By: Atlemar Tue, 09 Mar 2010 16:17:22 +0000 As a (involuntarily former) print reporter, I think the real problem here is not the phobia of links but of “hat-tips,” or crediting other papers. The mentality is that if you’re reading us, you should be reading *us*, and we’re not going to a) link to other papers, thus sending you away from us and to them, or b) cite other papers, convincing you that you should have been reading them in the first place. It’s a legacy of the days (probably not gone) when the NYTimes and WashPost see what the other has the next day at 11 p.m., and an editor calls his reporter at demands he get the same story (although it won’t be nearly as good).

Thirteen years ago I was at a paper in Texas that actually had style rules for how to refer to the three other nearest dailies, and each was different, based on how the deceased owner had felt about them. I spent weeks reporting a series on water projections. The other paper in the county, which had the same owner (the wife of the aforementioned deceased owner) and was just 30 miles away, dispatched a reporter to write its own water story, covering the same ground but not as well (because it was rushed), rather than reprint the content from its neighbor.

It’s that culture of competition rather than cooperation that is the problem. And even when cooperation exists, it almost never becomes the active collaboration in which multiple reporters from multiple papers will put together a single story, the way bloggers will add to stories they see somewhere else.

Here’s a good example of it done right: California State Senator Roy Ashburn was arrested for drunk driving. A TV station in Sacramento quoted unnamed sources that he was at a gay bar. Talking Points Memo advanced the story by calling said bar and talking to the owner. Ashburn’s hometown paper, the Bakersfield Californian (where I used to work), tried to advance the story but couldn’t reach Ashburn. They got local comment, which wasn’t groundbreaking but was at least something. Then they tied all that reporting together and — get this — cited all the original sources, even for the print edition.

By: Jon_Jacobs Mon, 08 Mar 2010 19:37:52 +0000 Great discussion. In many ways, this thread’s content testifies to upside of blogging as a medium, as outlined by Felix and some of the commenters.

By: Cynic Mon, 08 Mar 2010 15:42:28 +0000 Felix, I think you’re missing the key incentives here.

The hostility to linking outward from newspaper websites is largely a byproduct of their fear, suspicion, and resentment of other sites that have taken to linking, quoting, or excerpting their own reported content. Most major papers, and the journalists who work for them, feel (with some justification) threatened by the trend toward aggregation. They don’t like it when some blogger gets tens of thousand hits for a post built around a story they spent weeks or months researching – that’s their revenue, they believe, in someone else’s pocket. And that scorn for link-based blogging as inherently derivative and exploitative carries over into their own writing – there isn’t a first-rate paper in the country that does a good job linking to content.

I’m not without sympathy for that complaint, even though it’s fundamentally misguided. There’s a lot of very bad linking and excerpting that takes place on the web. But on the whole, it’s more of an opportunity than a curse. And even if they don’t like, it’s the emergent reality, and newspapers are going to have to adapt to it if they’re going to survive. Walling themselves off is simply a prescription for irrelevance.

This is why successful bloggers and trained journalists come at the issue so differently. Bloggers are predisposed to believe that they are taking part in a journalistic conversation, with their readers and with other bloggers. They expect their audience to cobble together information from a wide variety of sources, including their own blog. Journalists are trained to assemble and present information to their audience – generally with the presumption that their audience has no prior exposure to the story, and no other means of finding out about it. That story will run in a single package, a newspaper assembled from stories cobbled together from a wide variety of journalists.

In other words, the fundamental conflict here is between two visions of how content ought to be assembled, presented, and read. Newspaper journalists – and particularly old-guard editors – see in blogging the negation of the newspaper as a product. Not without reason. But that’s the argument you’ve got to tackle head on if you want them to change their minds. It’s not enough to rail against the stupidity of pointlessly replicating work, often in inferior fashion, when you can simply link to it. That’s not going to change minds. It’s not enough to point out that the moral dubiousness of linking to someone else’s content and generating hits from it is far outweighed by the outright sins of lifting that content without due acknowledgment or ignoring a worthwhile story just because someone else got there first. After all, they’ve been behaving in that fashion for their whole professional lives, and have long become inured to complaints.

There are only two chances for change. The first is that a younger generation of journalists, weaned on blogs and the internet, will come to understand newspapers as media organizations that exist within the global content stream of the internet, and pivot to take advantage of that fact. And while I’m optimistic that this will happen, I worry that too many good publications will disintegrate before it takes hold. The other is that blogs like yours, which combine first-rate reporting with generous and thoughtful linking, will continue to gain market-share, until even the stodgiest old papers feel compelled to hire away their authors or to find ways to replicate their success. We can hope.

By: Curmudgeon Mon, 08 Mar 2010 13:31:28 +0000 I would like to argue that it’s more than a tip of the hat. When bloggers link to each other and to news stories, the reader can get different perspectives and biases (yes, we’re all biased, but that’s not usually a bad thing), and draw conclusions based on a broader array of reporting. The bloggers cooperate as a community even as they compete in a smaller sense on the facts of the story, which provides them with more information and broader insight.

Felix, the WSJ story also ran in print, and I would guess that it was prepared for print, and posted on the blog as an afterthought. Links would have had to have been added after the story was put to bed, so to speak. I know it’s weak, and shows the limitations of print media, but I would guess that’s why many print organizations lack copious links.

By: Felix Salmon Mon, 08 Mar 2010 05:45:38 +0000 fixedincome, I do think that the JPM/Cablevision story was and is an important one, and I’m very glad that the WSJ ran with it. I also understand that if the WSJ’s going to run a major story on that topic, it’s going to have to do some reporting of its own. But I also think that if the story is important enough to put on the front page on a Saturday, it’s also important enough to at least link to on the previous Thursday when it first came out. And of course one of the great things about blogs is that once you start linking to things, people start emailing and commenting and writing on their own blogs while linking back to you — and so you learn more for your own story two days later, and maybe you can move the story forwards a bit.

By: fixedincome Mon, 08 Mar 2010 05:24:01 +0000 Felix –

This is a real question – not rhetorical banter:

Are you arguing that these kinds of stories should not be re-reported – or just that it shouldn’t be a blogger’s responsibility to do that re-reporting? (i.e. that a blogger should be an analyst/commentator when it comes to items that have already been reported elsewhere)

Part of the question is this – with regard to your point: “…the blog’s lead writer, Michael Corkery, had a piece in the print version of the newspaper which added nothing to the story, quoted the same Cablevisión executive that I had spoken to, and didn’t mention my post at all.”

It seems clear from the timing and context he should have credited you. But, beyond that, and from the point of a “news” publication rather than a blog, do you think that it simply should NOT have been re-reported at all? Or are you really just saying it turned out to be worthless time spent since it wasn’t additive?

I ask the latter, in seriousness, because it raises the question of whether, in a “news” environment, it is simply enough to “tip one’s hat” and observe that someone else has done some reporting. That would seem a tougher issue, especially if you believe there’s such a wide range of quality in reporting, and that perhaps one can’t always rely on the first to get the story.

By: UncleBillly1 Mon, 08 Mar 2010 01:04:56 +0000 The print reporter mindset is to be lazy and copy off the kid next to you?