Comments on: Why journalists need to link A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: bluemlein Wed, 07 Mar 2012 21:29:43 +0000 many problems could be avoided altogether if journalists remembered that the basic function of their job is to report. i am not surprised that far too many people have developed a blanket distrust of the news as reported; i think many realize instinctually that the article is not giving them the facts but a view that is filtered through the journo’s sensibilities.

reporting means stating facts, not speculating. when i assigned reporters to events i reminded them that “if it happens you report it” without embroidery. you also don’t leave anything out. because of the proliferation of talking heads it seems every journo thinks s/he is an analyst, a commentator, an interpreter.

too few journos nowadays think “reporter” has sufficient cachet and consequently fantasize themselves into a role where they overstep the bounds. in fact, the ability to separate and clearly present just the facts is more difficult than spewing one’s opinion – with the facts added for the sake of plausibility.

By: streeteye Tue, 28 Feb 2012 16:58:45 +0000 If markets are a conversation, then journalism is really a conversation. Barring deeply researched investigative stuff, every story occurs in the context of other stories. Linking to them is the only way to help the reader understand the conversation. When someone moves the conversation, failure to acknowledge them can be almost plagiarism, making it seem like you’re the one with the scoop. It happens a lot.

By: adambelz Tue, 28 Feb 2012 14:52:18 +0000 The WSJ is under no obligation to say who broke the news first, once it confirms a story. MG Siegler should calm down. Sure, it would be nice for him if the newspaper credited him, but that’s the game. Once it’s out there, other news outlets can confirm it and report it as their own. This happens every day, all over America.

By: DaveinBA Tue, 28 Feb 2012 03:45:30 +0000 I think every story needs a source. A GOOD source. In my opinion, “We’ve learned” does not qualify as good sourcing. Mr. Siegler’s assertion that he covered the takeover “as a fact for good reason — It. Was. A. Fact” sounds extremely arrogant: “How dare you doubt me?!”
As a reader, if you report something important, such as “Co. A buys Co. B,” I want to know where the info came from. If it’s an official announcement, say so (and yes, please add a link!). If it’s not, then I would expect you to provide as much info about that source as possible. Did the source ask not to be identified? Say so. That the source is “familiar with the situation” is no good either—nobody would do a story based on hearsay, right?
I think reporters should negotiate with their sources. Talk them into sense. Make them see that readers deserve to know that the info is reliable—
Was the source someone senior from Co. A? From Co. B?
Did you actually see the acquisition documents? Say so. Was it a copy of said docs? Say it, and explain why you have reason to fully trust it was legit. Did someone you absolutely trust see the docs? etc. Transparency will add to your credibility.
As for the CYA thing—I don’t think that’s even possible. If a reporter swallows the bait or otherwise believes his/her source’s lies or blunders, that’s bad reporting, period.
Only exception is if the source is someone important speaking on the record: “Sen. Smith said Co. A has purchased Co. B”. If that turns out to be wrong, then Sen. Smith, not the reporter, is in big trouble.
Finally, I believe every story should be self-contained. Regardless of whether the reader is on or off line, he/she may simply not want to spend a lifetime clicking back and forth to learn what’s going on.

By: WaltFrench Tue, 28 Feb 2012 02:55:44 +0000 (Apologies for auto-corrections that garbled my discussion of MG’s dual role of reporter and promoter.)

By: WaltFrench Tue, 28 Feb 2012 02:52:22 +0000 There’s another angle that I think worth discussing, although I’ll ask to not be held accountable for possible ad homonym attacking: MG Siegler is NOT a disinterested journalist.

By announcing a piece of material, non-public information without attribution, he is abetting his source in disclosing news that would potentially impact his employer’s investments, Chomp cperitors’ prospects for a buyout, Apple’s business prospects, etc. (I’ll note that I speculated, entirely without indicating any investment implications, about better business approaches on the blog of a VC fund guru, only days before the Chomp news broke. It would be disingenuous to claim that the topic was without investment implications.) And yet MG broke the story without any particular concern for normal concerns of Reg FD or other concerns.

In that sense, failure to link to irresponsible news leaks could be seen as a professional courtesy, not drawing attention to somebody out of his depth in blending investment advocacy and journalism.

By: TFF Tue, 28 Feb 2012 00:36:10 +0000 P.S. Links here… siness/31098778_1_center-for-housing-pol icy-housing-costs-area-median-income 2012.pdf

By: TFF Tue, 28 Feb 2012 00:12:30 +0000 Funny you should write on that, Felix…

On Saturday I ran across an article titled, “A steep roof over their heads — Housing is taking bigger bite of income”

Seems that “nearly a quarter of working households…spend more than half their income on housing”. Typically of newspaper journalism, this is a report on a report. Yet the link to the original report was NOT provided in or around the article.

As a result, the writer successfully buried a key qualification in the last sentence of the seventh paragraph. “The report defines working households as those who work at least 20 hours a week and earn no more than 120 percent of the area median income.” It omitted an additional clarification, that only 1/3 of the households in the US are “working households” by this definition.

The original “study” was clearly designed to generate shocking headlines, raising sympathy points for a certain political position. By failing to prominently note the qualifications (which are front-page sidebar on the original report), the journalist here played the dupe.

Lies, damn lies, statistics, and journalists… Bad mix.

By: JonathanStray Mon, 27 Feb 2012 23:02:14 +0000 “The story might get downloaded into an RSS reader, to be consumed offline. It might be emailed to someone with a Blackberry who can’t possibly be expected to open a hyperlink in a web browser. It might even get printed out and read that way.”

Yes, but I argue that the first two of those examples demonstrate failures of our technology that are rapidly being fixed, while printing it out is going to become increasingly rare — as we take better advantage of the online medium, print is going to look worse and worse.

In other words, should the traditional journalism industry really be arguing for backwards compatibility when there are online-only news outlets that don’t have to?

By: JonathanStray Mon, 27 Feb 2012 22:40:33 +0000 I agree there are two different things being talked about:

– whether to link to whoever broke the story
– linking as sourcing

I’m going to tackle only the second idea here.

Perhaps it used to be that “the WSJ said it” was good enough. Considering the well-documented decline in trust of news media, it may not be good enough now. I don’t think it’s good enough.

Now of course there are cases where the reader really must rely on the credibility of the journalist. Anonymous sources, and moments where the journalist is a first-hand witness to events that were not otherwise recorded come to mind. But asking the readers to “just trust us” is like pulling rank: while it’s always at least a formal possibility, you want to do it as little as possible because it spends social capital.

This “show don’t tell” ideal is deeply developed in other fields, such as scholarship (citations), science (detailed methodology, original data), and online security (a good system is one which relies on trusting as few actors as possible.)

When I say “all statements need to be attributed,” I am suggesting that this ideal apply to journalism as well.

Regarding your “are you stating X or, or stating that Y says X” point: the clearest thinking I’ve seen on this topic comes from logicians, AI practitioners, and intelligence analysts. In these fields, it’s standard to say that “there are no facts, only assertions.” The question of “according to who?” is deeply embedded in the idea of an assertion; IMHO what journalists are really in the business of doing is assembling evidence, not facts. If that’s the case, I want to see the evidence, when at all possible.

To make a long story short, I believe that users are willing to grant us journalists a certain amount of trust — but only a certain amount. We shouldn’t abuse that by asking them to trust us any more than is strictly necessary.