If you ask any blogger what they think the very blood of what keeps the blogosphere alive is and the large majority of them would probably answer – links. Whether it be links to outside posts or to point to where quotes have originated from links have been the very basis by which we as writers provide credit and as a way for the reader to verify what we have written. In general this idea of linking has been a fair way to make sure that proper attributions are made. Yes in some cases this has not always worked out with some blogs practicing what is called deep linking – which means they link to previous posts published by that blog instead of outlinking to the person who is the actual originator of the subject being talked about.
This type of thing has resulted in more than a few angry posts by bloggers who rightly feel that they have been slighted or other bloggers who lambaste these blogs who use excessive deep linking in order to boost their own pageviews rather than doing the right thing by linking to originating authors. Interestingly enough to blog posts showed up today that once again take a look at this phenomena. The posts look at this from two different points of view but the culprit in both cases isn’t bloggers but rather the mainstream media outlets that like to point out how they are better than bloggers because they have ethics that one doesn’t see in the blogging world.
The first post comes from David Eaves on his blog called The SEO Company [nw] (**) where he does a really good examination of the big players in our mainstream media and just how they treat blogging; or other online sources, with outlinks back to the originating sources from their main stories and from their onsite blogs. His survey – which you can see in full here – covered a total of 26 mainstream media outlets from around the world.
Of all of them only BBC, New York Times, Guardian, Times Online, Telegraph, Mirror and Metro outlinked from both their main stories as well as from their onsite blogs. Those that didn’t do any outlinking at all were The Sun, News of the World, Daily Star and Sunday Mail. the rest of those sampled; which included CNN, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Los Angeles Times, never outlinked from their main stories but did from their onsite blogs.
To be fair Dave did reach out to some of the editors of these online versions of the Mainstream Media outlets with much of the excuses being that while they might like to outlink the fact is that they consider blogs to be inherently unreliable. As James Montgomery an editor with FT.com said
Obviously, we are more inclined to believe some sources (Reuters) than others (chat rooms). Many blogs might be regarded as inherently unreliable because they don’t reveal their sources or uphold traditional journalistic/MSM standards of reporting (eg, double sourcing, on the record or whatever).
This though is an attitude that bloggers are more than use to dealing with. It can be frustrating and in most cases – especially considering the some of the bigger blogs have a very good record of sourcing their work – but what happens when Mainstream Media outlets blatantly treat their fellow respectable journalists the same way.
Such is a case reported by Philipp Lenssen over on Google Blogoscoped where he let’s know about a story that appeared in money.co.uk that looked suspiciously similar to one had actually been written by Patrick Collinson of the Guardian but nowhere in the money.co.uk article did any credit of any type appear. As the originator of the story Patrick Collinson said to Philipp when asked about it
“I personally have not had any communication from this website about the article I wrote.” He notes Money.co.uk wasn’t the biggest offender though. “The [Daily Mail] took the story in its entirety, including the quotes I had obtained from my source, and printed it as their front page splash. What was truly shocking was that they splashed the word ’exclusive’ on their front page about the story.” He adds, “I personally have no problem with other newspapers following up my stories. I spend lots of time following up other newspaper’s stories. But lifting a story then calling it your own exclusive is pretty sad.”
This post isn’t to suggest that just because the mainstream media seems to think it is alright to lift story ideas without proper credit being given that it is alright for the blogosphere to do the same. If anything it is things like this that should in fact make us strive to provide a better example of how news and opinion should be written. It is time top show MSM that us upstarts in this age of information have a better sense of ethics that those who would call us unsubstantiated bloggers.
I think that would be a great way to show old media how news is really shared with the people and our friends in the business. How about you?
(**) – bad blogger notice here – I had neglected to add the original link back to Dave’s post that started all of this. I has been fixed and I also apologize to Dave over than oversight.
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