I wanted to take a moment to discuss the topic of giving proper credit when something is being reported, and whether that credit must go to the person who first reported breaking news.

This is something that is far more important to media types than it is to most fans. So in a sense, this is being written more for them than for you. But it is also something media types talk about a lot, so we wanted to provide some background.

Many bloggers get a bad rap in the credit game, and are often accused of stealing things. Part of that is because there are some bad apples and we are all lumped together. And part of it is because in the world of the interwebs, a lot of the old rules don’t fit, and what is right or wrong is very grey.

And really, nobody has been worse than ESPN, who only recently began to give credit to other sources.

This all came to a boil on Thursday when

news broke that the Bucs has re-signed Davin Joseph. We don’t want to get in to all the gory details, but it appeared to us (and feel free to correct us) that JP Peterson of 1010 Sports first reported the signing. And then shortly thereafter, Steve Duemig of 620 WDAE first reported the details of the contract. And then some of the newspaper people jumped in with their own reports.

As a blogger (and really this applies to all media, not just bloggers), who should we be giving credit?

Simple. Credit goes to the outlet where the blogger got the information. The responsibility of the blogger or media outlet is only to accurately relay the information, and to inform the audience where they got the information.

If the blogger knows that somebody else reported it first, then by all means, give them credit. But there are literally thousands of potential sources, and it is not the bloggers responsibility to go through every website, or newspaper, or twitter feed to try to determine if somebody else pushed the information 30 seconds earlier.

That is impossible to do. And it is not fair to the person that was successful in getting the information to the blogger.

It is entirely possible for two outlets to independently report the same news. The blogger should not be put into a position where they are forced to ignore the second outlet to report the news if it happened to be the first place the blogger read it.

And what if the information was first reported on a radio show that the blogger doesn’t listen to? Or on ESPN when the blogger is not watching?

It is just the responsibility to report where the information came from. If we find something on ESPN.com, we let you know that is where it came from. If ESPN.com got it from someplace else first, then it is ESPN’s responsibility to include that information. And if they do, then we might say something like “so-and-so reported, via ESPN.com.”

And there are other complications. In today’s fast-moving media world, teams often send out mass emails to the media. This might lead to 30 different outlets reporting the same thing. It is not the blogger’s job to figure out who typed the fastest, or who had the best data connection, or to even try to figure out if this is indeed exclusive news (the media always portrays these items as if they are the only one with the info).

Now, if a blogger is going to say “as first reported by…” then they better be damn sure that is correct. And if the blogger ignores an earlier source to give credit to somebody else, that is a big problem.

Hey. I am a writer. I am big believer in giving proper credit. And there have been plenty of times that Rays Index wasn’t given credit for being first on something, even though we were. And honestly, we have never cared. The information is what it is important. If you get it from somebody else, that is fine. As long as you are getting it.

In the media game, breaking news has two important pieces: 1) being fast; and 2) getting the information to the audience. If you can’t do the latter or are just unlucky, the former doesn’t matter.

Besides, the audience just wants the information. They want it fast. And they want it accurate. And they don’t give a shit who gives it to them first.

 
 

5 Comments

  1. Michael says:

    I am not a blogger, but I do work in the technology industry, usually close to or indeed in the internet space.

    This is a hot button issue currently among bloggers and especially of late because of the advent of sites like The Huffington Post, which are huge valuable properties that do nothing but leach from other content providers, sometimes in a very disgusting fashion.

    This issue of credit is a problem that has cropped up as a result of a pretty dramatically changing landscape in journalism, and most people are going to fight on the side that defends their interest. For guys like you who seem to do a lot of original writing, even if it is based off of a sourced article, it’s clear that sourcing is important… you do hard work and want you’re ad impressions.

    For guys like Huffington Post and I’m sure at least some dark segment of the basement as ESPN dot com, they want to avoid it as much as possible because they want to occlude the fact that they are not the origin of their own content.

    My opinion is this… that sourcing will always be a gentlemen’s agreement, and that the internet media space will become so diluted and overrun (if it isn’t already), that ultimately quibbling over source credit will really not be monetarily worth it…

    Ultimately what will happen is that the measure of a blog or a media outlet will be in the quality of the vessel which delivers the content.

    ESPN could steal every article on the planet, but if their site is shoddy, ridden with annoying ads, and hard to navigate (which it is), then people will not go there and it won’t matter that they are ripping people.

    What blogs and other smaller venues like, say, local papers or radio stations can do to fight ESPN is make their damn websites worth visiting. WDAE’s website is worthless. Nobody wants to go to that site except for the web stream of the broadcast.

    I love your site because it’s focused, well written, easy to read (aesthetically speaking, etc)… and since there is no true way to police sourcing other than a gentlemans agreement, the guys doing the actual work will have to fight ESPN with what they have at their disposal as small entities… which is agility to adapt and change with the medium.

    ESPN’s website looks like it’s from 2006… because they are a huge company and it takes 6 months to get anything done. Whereas blogs and such can just progressively upgrade, etc, and as long as they make the right decisions, the sites get more appealing and more people will want to visit them.

    Blogs aren’t there yet though. They have to keep building up their credibility, the technology needs to become more accessible, before they can start convincing the drones who think ESPN is the end-all-be-all that there are greener pastures… and ESPN dot com will slowly bleed to death until they change their formula.

    Likely? Probably not. But it is possible, certainly.

  2. John says:

    I’m confused.

  3. dustin says:

    Nice, thoughtful post, Prof. Thanks for it.

  4. Where’s my post. I coined the term, “9/11 was an inside job” and now you’ve stolen my post. WTF

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