Tuesday, January 12, 2010

If bloggers fail to credit media they're parasites, but when NPR does it they're journalists

I read a cool story in the NYT this morning. Written by Manny Fernandez and Michael S. Schmidt, it was one of those wonderful metro pieces about a colorful New York personality -- in this case, a legendary Brooklyn strongman who died when when a minivan hit him during his daily 5-mile walk. The twist was that Joe Rollino was 104 years old and healthy as a horse.
He was a legend within that small Coney Island society in which few New Yorkers would want to become known as legends: the men and women who swim in the Atlantic when it is at its harshest and coldest. On a 6-degree day in January 1974, Mr. Rollino and six other members of the Iceberg Athletic Club swam into the waters off Coney Island. The freezing Atlantic was like steel: It didn’t intimidate him.

“People told me he holds the record for swimming every day for eight years,” said Louis Scarcella, 59, a former homicide detective and a member of the city’s oldest winter swimming club, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. “He was known as the Great Joe Rollino, and he was great. You knew he was great just by standing next to him. He just had that humble confidence and strength. It shined.”
There. See? I mentioned a story I liked and thought you might like to read. I credited the sources, quoted a "fair use" passage and linked to the original story so you could read the whole thing for yourself. That wasn't so hard.

Apparently for NPR it is. I was listening to "All Things Considered" this afternoon and heard the whole story all over again, with never a nod to the Times. Sure, NPR used their own words and did their own interview (though with the same former homicide detective quoted by the Times -- couldn't they even go into the hood and find someone on their own?) It would just seem common courtesy to acknowledge a nicely written and observed story, but apparently NPR disagrees.

You find a lot of this in the mainstream media, especially radio and TV but also print. And it's not hard to tell why the original source is often not credited. To do so would be to undermine the illusion of originality ("news") of the writer or producer. I'm not saying anybody is violating anybody's copyright. Just that they're being disingenuous at best.

Most conscientious bloggers are careful to credit stories and link to the originals. It gives the whole argument that bloggers are not doing real reporting and are just parasites living off the work of others a distinctly hypocritical quality. After all, many of the people making the accusation are doing the same or worse.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this used to happen to the smart / sharp investigative bloggers, i.e., marcy wheeler ( emptywheel ( @ fire dog lake and glenn greenwald at his original blog Unclaimed Territory ( now @ salon.com ) and of course many others.

what these bloggers did was to bitch up a storm and ask their readers to contact the offending rip off mainstream corporate media outlet.

now you see nyt and wapo and ap give credit where credit is due more often.

but when a mainstream corporate media entity like npr rips off another mainstream corporate media entity like the nyt ... what normally happens ?? lawsuits ?? charges of plagarism ???

we know why this happens - with staffing reduction and budget cutbacks the remaining people just do not have the time or resources to cover as much or dig as deep as they were once able to do.

america is going to suffer mightily from this corporate decision to gut the watchdog role.