Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Journal Gazette Attribution Policy Needs Updating

Today's JG covered the Matt Kelty birthday cake story on page 1 of the Metro section. The author, Ben Lanka, clearly got wind of the story from my post here at Fort Wayne Left. What made it quite obvious was that the story mentioned that a sign outside the Emerald City said "The Wizard of Ozz is in". Now I wrote the exact same thing in my post (2 days before it appeared in the JG) but it turns out that I was wrong - as Dan Turkette's higher resolution photo shows.

I decided to contact Lanka and ask him why he chose not to attribute this blog in his story. He was kind enough to respond and since it was a private communication I won't post his response verbatim. However, the gist of his response was that the JG only attributes stories if they can't be independently confirmed. Since the photos were still up on Kelty's website there was no need to attribute Fort Wayne Left.

Let me say that I understand this policy as it relates to competitors such as television newscasts and other newspapers. But blogs do not compete with newspapers - we supplement them. We not only point readers to their work, but also occasionally report stories and/or facts that might be overlooked or go unreported. In essence we help newspapers achieve their goal - to bring the truth to readers on stories that are important in the community. However, blogs continue to lack credibility because traditional media sources refuse to attribute stories that originate in the blogosphere.

In my opinion, this attribution policy is outdated and should be changed. I have written the editor of the JG and asked that he review this policy and make the appropriate changes. But I'm interested in what the readers think - should the JG attribute stories that originate in the blogosphere?

8 comments:

DT said...

Yes, they should but I don't see it happening anytime soon. We're a big threat, especially when the number of blogs keep increasing and they base their postings and stories on factual evidence.

The recent proliferation of anonymous blogs won't help us.

steve said...

I agree. Although I would argue that if a reporter gets a lead from the web and corroborates the facts elsewhere, they may just site the corroborating source.

But this would not apply to the Lanka story because I don't recall any sources in the piece.

scott spaulding said...

Blogs don't exist.

Move along, citizen.

Rachel said...

Jeff,

I think that newspapers and other traditional media sources aren't exactly sure what to do with citizen journalists. I don't think that they fully understand how bloggers like yourself are actually doing real reporting.

I also think they are skeptical because blogs and newspapers operate under different news standards. While I respect blogs and the work that bloggers do, very few operate with the standard of "if your mother says she loves, check it out."

I liked your suggestion that blogs compliment the traditional media, not supplant them. Until editors and reporters figure that out, there will be a lot of friction between the two worlds.

fairplaybeach said...

I don't read the newspapers or watch the news and I've never been more informed about what's going on in Fort Wayne than since the "FW Blogosphere" came into being, which I would approximate at the Spring of 2006. I do look at the Fort Wayne Newspaper site however... but half the time when a blog points me there. I don't want the newspaper because I don't want to have to gather up and bag all the papers for recycling.

I wouldn't blame them for not mentioning the blog because you are competition. If blogs could prosper the Newspaper in some way then maybe attribution would be in order. I don't know exactly how but I like to creatively think "win-win." Maybe I should have to pay to read the story on the Newspaper site... That's not very creative...lol

fairplaybeach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stan Matuska said...

I say yes, if the story is verifiable. If the blog is just floating an opinion or a theory, then no.

Sometimes blog's are the first to report a breaking story, or the first to post photos etc., so therefore they should be taken seriously by the media, as long as the story and/or photo (s) can be verified. Rush Limbaugh quotes blogs all the time, but of course, at his discression!

bobett said...

Absolutely.

Blogs provide research, in many
instances, site sources and brings about a new check and balance to the old media.