Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Your Lesson in (Bad) Journalism

Something that I've noticed in recent days on Kick FM's Great Canadian Talk Show is the lack of citation being given to specific blogs and forums when they are used as content. The FreeP will sometimes get credited but for blogs etc. that seems not to be the norm anymore.

The first time I can remember giving much thought to media not citing blogs was with the whole "Marx-gate" thing in late July. The Rise and Sprawl noticed a West End Biz sponsored mural of Karl Marx being painted on a building. He pointed it out and the ensuing kerfuffle even made it to the national news . When the FreeP's Joe Paraskevas reported on the story he wrote merely "The mural has also become the subject of at least one local Internet blog". The minimalist citation route.

It brings up a growing debate: how does a media outlet cite a blog, forum etc. when they use it on air or in print ? Fanhouse.com has an interesting article on the topic called "How to Give Blogs Credit: a Handy Guide for the Mainstream Media" that includes some of the more glaring, and in some cases embarrassing, examples to date in the U.S.. Excerpt:

"Looking back on the short but storied history of the MSM and radio hosts "borrowing" material from blogs ... it's obvious that if established media is going to rely on the blogosphere for material, then it also needs to learn established Internet etiquette for crediting sources."

James Madison University's Communication Studies coursebook for Oral Citations says that when orally citing you should"provide enough information about each source so that your audience could, with a little effort, find them". Specific to blogs, it recommends that oral citations include: the title /name of blogger, website, and date posted.

Another interesting discussion is at Wired Journalists and the discussion thread "Should newspapers credit blogs as sources ?" which has some interesting back and forth about transparency, credibility and where the lines should be drawn.

It's something that has become an issue for bloggers citing other bloggers as well when they reference material. A movement that began a few years back includes an on-line petition committing the undersigned to provide a FULL citing when referencing another's work.

Back to the last few days on Kick FM.

I recall that Gold felt that barely-referencing The Rise and Sprawl by the Free Press was a major slight. I seem to recall the rant went along the lines of: isn't it the least they could do to give the guy credit, especially when he does a column for them every once in a while ? Of course, it included a few of the usual swings at the FreeP's integrity.

What tweaked my ears today and got me blogging about this whole issue was that during his interview with sportscaster Scott Taylor, Gold interrupted at one point to remind people that it was Taylor that should be credited with the creation of a certain Shaw TV show and wanted to remind the audience about it as "...credit should go where it is due". Oddly, in the very same show there were two more examples of material used without the source being credited by name ?!

So, in an effort to see that credit goes where it due here are the four items I recall used on the show in the past couple of broadcasts that were cited as unnamed blogs or forums.

Item: 'Anonymous' Australian essay re: multiculturalism and policing in Australia- the negative effects on policing.
Website: Challenging-Islam.org or Quadrant.org
Article and Link: 'The Rise of Middle Eastern Crime in Australia" (Jan 2004) by Tim Priest

Item: Unnamed blog re: new FM radio stations in the city, including an Evanov Radio entity.
Blog: PolicyFrog
Article: "New radio stations on the way ... not so much of mystery"

Item: 'Unnamed blog' re: 4 different media takes on the woman who beat up a guy on her street after her ten year old was allegedly propositioned by him.
Blog: West End Dumplings
Article: "Four Vigilante Assaults ?!"

Item: 'Unnamed forum' post re: someone's ten year old daughter becoming jaded with the crime she sees going on around her in Winnipeg.
Forum: Newwinnipeg.com
Topic: "10 year old sees crime all around her in one day and shakes it off.... what's Winnipeg coming to?"

Now, there's a lesson in journalism for today: credit should go where it is due !

UPDATE: Speaking of blogs as news there's an interesting video piece on BBC News about bloggers off to Denver. "Political bloggers attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver talk to Matthew Price about their unique brand of journalism and why they feel their coverage will have the edge over traditional media."


The Rise and Sprawl said...

I remember just kind of chuckling when I read that "it was the subject of at least one internet blog." (And it certainly made up for it when the Globe & Mail cited and quoted from my blog.)

mrchristian said...

I didn't realize they cited you ! (the full length article is not up anymore). I wonder if that's a newspaper decision (i.e. a policy in place to cite and use blogs that the FreeP doesn't have) or just the individual reporter's decision to use it.