The inherent tension between the old media and the new media boiled over the weekend when Ian Shapira wrote an insightful article for the Washington Post about how Gawker appropriated one of his stories. For people concerned with the so-called “death of journalism,” it is a must read. It is a fairly accurate description of what happens when bloggers repackage stories.
Yesterday, Gawker fired back at the Washington Post. Gabriel Snyder explained how bloggers add original commentary, humor, and sometimes insight. It’s one of the reasons readers keep coming back.
Today, our own Kashmir Hill entered the fray. She points out that some blogs (ahem) actually report and break news, and that news is repackaged by mainstream media sources all the time, often without sufficient attribution or original insight. Over on True/Slant, Kash writes about what happened to her popular story about Fordham’s privacy dossier on Justice Scalia:
I’m a struggling blogger making very little money. I would have been happy to write that story for the New York Times on a freelance basis and get paid for it. (As Washingtonian Magazine invited me to do for its June issue.)
But that’s not how these things usually work. As journalists — the traditional ones and the “new” ones/bloggers — we get stories out into the world, and then they bounce around and gather steam and get read. It’s exciting!
I’m happy my story was covered, regurgitated and repackaged. It’s an important story about a topic -privacy- that I am passionate about.
Hear, hear. The old media simply doesn’t have a monopoly on original reporting anymore.
In case you are interested, Above the Law has a very consistent policy that we follow when it comes to attribution. Let’s discuss it after the jump, and you can weigh in with your thoughts.
Put simply, we never hide the ball when we are adding commentary to somebody else’s reporting. We link to the original source prominently before we start quoting anybody. And we name the publications we are working off of. We set aside the excerpted portions against an obvious blue background. And in case you have forgotten where the source material came from by the time you have finished reading our article, we link to the source again at the end of the piece.
It’s really not that complicated. To the extent that there’s a problem with the model, Kash puts the problem like this:
It’s not primarily bloggers killing newspapers. It’s a public that doesn’t want to read real paper anymore. It’s readers who want humor, voice, and a strong point of view in the news they read. It’s companies that are cutting back on advertising in the middle of a recession. The world is evolving and we all need to change with it, and embrace the ease with which our little stories can now get out and spread their little wings and fly.
I would simply add that in this evolving world, readers themselves are part of the equation and can add original content of their own. With that in mind, what do you guys think about this little dust up between Gawker and the Washington Post?
The Evolution of Journalism (Or: How The New York Times Stole My Blog Story) [True/Slant]
The Death of Journalism (Gawker Edition) [Washington Post]
The Time Gawker Put the Washington Post Out of Business [Gawker]
Earlier: Justice Scalia Responds to Fordham Privacy Invasion!