Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How & When to Credit Bloggers?

A blogger posts something interesting. The local metro newspaper sees that post, reports a story, and doesn't mention the blog. Should the blogger be credited? What about if the blog post is the first local coverage of the story? Or if the reporter interviewed the blogger?

Those questions and others -- about the media food chain, originality, transparency -- are bouncing around the Twin Cities blogosphere following a Minneapolis Star-Tribune story (http://www.startribune.com/535/story/1584700.html)  that apparently owed some inspiration to a local blogger's posts.

On Nov. 29 and 30, Twin Cities blogger  Ed Kohler  posted (here (http://www.thedeets.com/2007/11/29/targets-undercover-facebook-operation/)  and here (http://www.thedeets.com/2007/11/30/more-on-target-rounders/) ) on an emerging story involving Minneapolis-based Target Corp.: Students doing viral marketing for Target on Facebook were asked to conceal their affiliation with the company. Kohler's posts hat-tipped and expanded on posts by University of Georgia senior  Rosie Siman , who revealed the concealment on Oct. 8 (http://%20rosiesiman.blogspot.com/2007/10/target.html) . (In an Oct. 9 update (http://rosiesiman.blogspot.com/2007/10/target-update.html) , Siman posted that she'd learned the administrator for the Target Rounders program claims the original request was a "miscommunication.")

A few minutes before midnight on Nov. 30 the Star-Tribune published its version of the story online. They also bannered it across the front page of the Dec. 1 paper. The story quoted Siman, Target and Target's marketing arm. It did not mention Kohler's blog; even though referred to Target being "outed in online blogs."

In response to the newspaper story, Kohler called out (http://www.thedeets.com/2007/12/01/blogger-sees-red-over-startribunes-lack-of-citation/)  reporter  Jackie Crosby , saying that she had phoned him after his first post and that he had discussed what he knew and provided contact info for some sources. Crosby commented on Kohler's post (http://www.thedeets.com/2007/12/01/blogger-sees-red-over-startribunes-lack-of-citation/#comments)  that she appreciated his help, but "Reporters talk to people all the time who don't get quoted every time we write stories. ... We use sources to help us better understand things we don't understand."  (Disclosure: I also commented on this post.) 

Was Kohler only a source? Local bloggers don't think so. They have objected on Kohler's blog and on a local online daily, the Minnesota Monitor (http://www.minnesotamonitor.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=2832) , saying that he furthered the story and brought it to local attention. (Of note, late on the day of Kohler's first post, Crosby put a please-get-in-touch note (http://rosiesiman.blogspot.com/2007/10/target-update.html#c2073477862761650844)  on Siman's blog.)

I think that the overarching question (as I commented (http://www.minnesotamonitor.com/showComment.do?commentId=10249)  on Minnesota Monitor): Sometimes stories are truly original and exclusive, but sometimes they are value-added. Is it time to start being up-front about which is which? Which is ultimately more harmful to credibility: adding a phrase such as "also reported in XX," or hearing from a host of talkative online readers who noticed that we didn't?  

Poynter  online, E-Media Tidbits Posted by Maryn McKenna

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