Since the beginning of the millennium, the gap between journalism and blogging has narrowed down. While many blogs became the main source of news in many areas, journalists had to adopt more of a blogging writing style to remain relevant in the modern online world.
Even though there are still many differences between journalism and blogging, there are still some things that MUST apply for both worlds.
One of those things, which I want to talk about here through a recent story, is ethics. And more specifically, attributing (linking in the virtual world) stories to their original source. Meaning that if someone (blogger or journalist for that matter) has broke some news, his/hers story should receive the attribution by others that publish these breaking news later on.
The story I want to present involves the blogger (and the investor) MG Siegler and the The Wall Street Journal. Now before getting into the story itself its important to know some background- MG and some writers from the traditional press (like The WSJ) don’t have a pleasant relationship (to say the least).
Some traditional press writers thinks that MG shouldn’t blog because he is a partner in the venture capital firm, CrunchFund. This is of course a complete incredibly enormous gigantic huge bullshit. ANYBODY who wishes to blog, can do it freely and it is only up to the readers themselves to CHOOSE if to read it or not.
That said, it is also important to post a proper disclosure about possible conflict of interests, such as writing about a company you are invested in, which MG is always doing as far as I saw.
And now for the story: MG posted the other day breaking news about the acquisition of Chomp by Apple on TechCrunch. Few hours later, The WSJ also published the same news item, presumably as its writer, Jessica Vascellaro, broke the story (meaning no attribution/linking). It is important to mention that at that time, not Apple and neither Chomp have officially confirmed it.
That caused many other websites/blogs/individuals to relate the breaking news to The WSJ article and NOT to the TechCrunch post, which was the original source of the news.
Not so long after, MG published a raging post about The WSJ (“jackassified asshats” was just one of their nicknames). Even though I don’t agree with everything in that post, I STRONGLY agree with the general idea of the post- Giving the credit (link) to the original source!
What I didn’t agree with, its his decision to link to scraper sites (which are the REAL ENEMY) instead of The WSJ from now on. I also didn’t agree with his Google+ insult, which I think is progressing fast. But these are just couple of little things compared to the important key point he is delivering, driven from his justified anger.
Link attribution has many effects that should benefit the original source- Reputation, branding, respect, traffic from other articles, SEO (better rankings) and more. Not doing so, takes from the original source all these benefits it deserves.
There are many who likes how MG is writing (like I do) while there are others who don’t and there are even some that thinks he shouldn’t write at all. In this case it doesn’t really matter, because not attributing/linking to the original source is just bad journalism/blogging.