In looking at “all the angst over online appropriation of newspapers’ work,” Nieman Foundation blogger Zachary M. Seward (Nieman Journalism Lab, 9/4/09) thinks that “information actually flows in all directions, right?”
As “blog posts inspire newspaper articles, newspapers lift from other newspapers, and radio stations do the rip-and-read,” Seward writes that “when a blogger uncovered a major zoning violation in her Brooklyn neighborhood last month, it was only natural that the New York Post would pick up the story”:
But credit the blogger? That would be a violation of policy.
The Post prohibits crediting blogs and other competitors for scoops, according to the reporter, Alex Ginsberg, who noted the zoning violation two weeks after it was reported by the blogger, who calls herself Miss Heather. “Post policy prevented me from crediting you in print,” Ginsberg wrote in a gracious comment on the blog. “Allow me to do so now. You did a fantastic reporting job. All I had to do was follow your steps (and make a few extra phone calls).”
The policy may have more to do with the Post‘s rival, the Daily News, than with blogs, but it appears to apply across the board. In an email to Miss Heather, Ginsberg wrote, “The rule is this: If every detail, fact and quote can be independently verified, then we donÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢t have to credit anyone.”
Seward finds it “hard, of course, to defend this rule on journalistic grounds,” particularly when “News Corp., which publishes the Post, has described the way Google handles its content as parasitic. How would the company describe relying on someone else’s work without credit?”
Read FAIR’s magazine Extra!: “Did Google Kill the Newspaper Star?” by Peter Hart (7/09).