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Archive for the ‘Linking’ Category

I have been privileged this weekend to be an Ethics Fellow at the 62nd Journalism Institute at Washington and Lee University.

The case study I will present to students today will deal with the plagiarism case of Fareed Zakaria, which I blogged about considerably in 2014. In presenting the case to the students, I will not tell his name or the names of the journalism organizations he worked for, but will just present some of the facts of the case. Then the students will discuss what they would do if they were in charge of one of those journalism organizations.

After they discuss for a while, I will fill them in on the rest of the details of his case.

Here are the blog posts I wrote about him and his case:

Attribution, quotation marks and links: They turn plagiarism into research

Thoughts on anonymity, identification, credibility and Fareed Zakaria’s plagiarism accusers

Fareed Zakaria’s plagiarism wasn’t ‘low-level;’ no one’s is

Bloggers call out CNN for double standard on Fareed Zakaria

Newsweek, Slate and Washington Post acknowledge Zakaria’s failure to attribute

My interview with Our Bad Media on Fareed Zakaria and plagiarism

In my closing, I may talk about the importance of linking in journalism ethics, and how it might help combat and prevent plagiarism. I elaborated on that point here:

Journalists need to use links to show our work

Here’s a piece Andrew Beaujon wrote for The Washingtonian about how Zakaria paid virtually no price for his plagiarism.

 

 

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I remain an optimist that newspapers aren’t dying. But if they die, the cause of death will be suicide, not that the evil Internet killed them.

Hyperlinks are not a matter of life or death, even in the digital age. But failure to adapt can kill your business, or an entire industry, and hyperlinks are a key illustration of newspapers’ failure and unwillingness to adapt.

Shan Wang of the Nieman Lab addressed the issue of linking in a post yesterday (I did too; we were both responding to a post on linking by Margaret Sullivan, New York Times Public Editor).

This passage from Wang’s post was a facepalm moment for me that just illustrates how slow, reluctant and stupid newspapers have been in adapting to the challenges and opportunities of digital media: (more…)

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The New York Times often and flagrantly violates its own standards for attribution.

Executive Editor Dean Baquet ignored my call earlier this year for him to lose his famous temper about the Times’ casual and inexcusable promiscuity in the use of unnamed sources. I will try again (and invite him to respond), only this time I’ll include another issue of attribution: linking to digital sources.

First two disclaimers:

  1. I’ve written a lot about these two subjects before, both regarding journalism in general and regarding the Times. I apologize for any repetition. I will try to minimize and include links to previous posts at the end (and sprinkle them where relevant in this post).
  2. The Times is unquestionably, in my view, the most outstanding organization in journalism, with some of the highest standards in journalism. That’s what makes its daily disregard of its own standards in these two important areas so maddening.

I am writing about these attribution issues because they collided this week in two outstanding posts by others: (more…)

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The New York Times needs to do a better job of linking.

I said that here in two posts on Nov. 24. Big deal, I rail about linking all the time, and Society of Professional Journalists and Poynter, among others, have blown me off.

But now the Times’ Standards Editor and Editor for News Presentation are telling Times staffers they need to do a better job of linking. Now, that’s a big deal.

In his After Deadline blog of “newsroom notes on usage and style,” Standards Editor Philip B. Corbett laments, “For all our progress in digital journalism, we sometimes still neglect one of its most basic tools: the link.” (more…)

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Ellyn Angelotti photo linked from Twitter

Update: I’ve added a 2011 Dan Gillmor piece on linking at the end of this post. 

Journalists interested in attribution, plagiarism and journalism ethics should read Ellyn Angelotti‘s two-part series about attribution.

Part 1 discusses plagiarism, particularly why journalists should attribute when they use content from press releases:

When deciding whether to publish information that comes via an organization’s official release, it’s important to consider the context of the source. The release could reflect a skewed perspective — or, worse, the information may not be accurate. So by publishing information in a release verbatim, you potentially run afoul of the important ethical value of acting independently and holding those who are powerful accountable.

Additionally, disseminating information published in official releases without additional reporting may not allow for diversity of voices in the conversation, especially on social media. When people recirculate the same information, they contribute to the echo chamber of the existing conversation online, instead of adding new knowledge.

(more…)

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McBride_New_Ethics_of_JournalismI like the new Guiding Principles for the Journalist, spelled out in the opening chapter of The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century.

The overall concepts of these principles reflect the same core values as Bob Steele’s Guiding Principles from about 20 years ago, but also reflect the need to update journalism ethics. Bob’s principles were organized around these three themes:

  • Truthfulness
  • Independence
  • Minimizing harm

The new principles, authored by the book’s editors, Poynter’s Kelly McBride and the American Press Institute’s Tom Rosenstiel, are organized around these three themes:

  • Truthfulness
  • Transparency
  • Community

The new principles note the value of independence, but recognize the complexity of today’s journalism and give excellent advice on being transparent about connections that may influence our content. In my October suggestions for the Guiding Principles, I merged independence and transparency into one section, so I’m pleased with this change. The new principles still call on journalists to minimize harm, but do so in the broader context of guidance about our relationships to the communities we serve. As a frequent advocate of community engagement, I am delighted to see it recognized as a core principle of journalism.

My primary disappointment in reading through the principles was their failure to explicitly address the ethics of linking. The transparency section generally calls on journalists to show their work and “explain” their sources, but in an apparent effort to avoid mentioning specific platforms in the principles, the authors stopped short of directly addressing a significant issue on which many journalists are either lazy or resistant. (more…)

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I am participating today in the National Summit to Fight Plagiarism and Fabrication. For the past few months I have been working with an outstanding group of colleagues on an ebook, Telling the Truth and Nothing But, intended to help journalists and newsrooms prevent plagiarism and fabrication.

Before I share my contribution from the book, I must applaud three people in particular who drove this process:

I was pleased to represent the Online News Association and Digital First Media in the project and applaud the others who contributed (who are listed at the back of the book).

The project is summed up well in this passage (which I didn’t write, but wish I had; would the author please identify himself or herself?):

Our hope is that  it’s sufficiently provocative and practical to prompt in every newsroom in every medium a habit of asking a question that’s been grunted by generations of grizzled editors: “Says who?” (more…)

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Last year I blogged about four reasons linking is good journalism. Make it five.

Journalists who practice thorough linking to provide context and attribution for their stories (two of the four reasons I cited) would have learned pretty quickly that crucial facts about Manti Te’o‘s purported girlfriend couldn’t be verified.

Or journalists following Craig Silverman‘s advice on using an accuracy checklist (or using my checklist, adapted from Craig’s) would have found lots of red flags and no verification. (I’ll concentrate on linking here, but I see points on both of our checklists that might have helped a journalist see that something was wrong.)

If you care about accuracy in journalism and if you want to see an excellent example of journalism (exposing several shameful examples of journalism), read the Deadspin investigation of the Notre Dame football star’s fictitious girlfriend. (more…)

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I have added three updates, marked in bold, since posting this originally.

Aggregation has become a dirty word in much of journalism today.

Bill Keller, former editor of the New York Times, last year wrote: “There’s often a thin line between aggregation and theft.”

Patrick Pexton, Washington Post ombudsman, in an April 20 column called plagiarism “a perpetual danger in aggregated stories.”

Actually, aggregation has a long, proud and ethical history in journalism. If you’re an old-school journalist, don’t think Huffington Post or Drudge when you think about aggregation; think AP. The Associated Press is primarily largely an aggregation service*, except that it its members pay huge fees for the privilege of being aggregated (and for receiving content aggregated from other members).

The New York Times and Washington Post also have long histories of aggregation. In my years at various Midwestern newspapers, we reported big local and regional stories that attracted the attention of the Times, Post and other national news organizations. Facts we had reported first invariably turned up in the Times and Post stories without attribution or with vague attribution such as “local media reports.” I don’t say that critically. When I was a reporter and editor at various Midwestern newspapers, we did the same thing with facts we aggregated from smaller newspapers as we did regional versions of their local stories.

My point isn’t to criticize these traditional newspapers, just to note that aggregation isn’t a new practice just because it’s a fairly new journalism term. It’s one of many areas where journalism practices and standards are evolving, and I believe standards are actually improving in most cases.

After the Washington Post case, Elana Zak asked me and others if journalists needed to develop guidelines for aggregation.

I’m happy to contribute to that conversation with some thoughts about aggregation. I’ll start with discussing what I mean by aggregation (and its cousin or sibling, curation):

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I was traveling yesterday, so I came in late to a discussion about outbound links. A tweet from Elaine Clisham brought the discussion to my attention:

Actually, it was about four years ago, I think. But thanks for remembering, Elaine. Alas, that blog post for the American Press Institute, where Elaine and I were colleagues, is no longer available online. I will try to find it somewhere and resurrect it for archival purposes. (Update: I found and reposted my 2008 post: Google doesn’t fear outbound links; neither should you.) I don’t have time to pull in all the tweets of a really long Twitter discussion, but Mathew Ingram curated some of them in a blog post asking, “Is linking polite, or is it a core value of journalism?“, prompted by MG Siegler’s rant about the Wall Street Journal’s refusal to link when he beat them on a story for TechCrunch.

If you’re interested in the discussion that followed that post, check yesterday’s tweets by Mathew, Charles Arthur and Caitlin Fitzsimmons and this 2010 post by Jonathan Stray. Update: A comment below points out this piece by Felix Salmon that covers linking and attribution at length. I don’t agree with it all, but it’s well argued and reasonable.

This tweet from Fitzsimmons seems representative of the linking-is-just-a-courtesy viewpoint:

My contribution will be these four reasons why linking is good journalism (which may somewhat echo Jonathan’s and Mathew’s posts, because they are both right): (more…)

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Even a novice blogger needs to understand how people use search engines to find the content they are looking for. You want to help people find your posts. This practice is known as search-engine optimization, abbreviated SEO.

I am not expert enough in SEO to cover the matter in depth (for more on the topic, I recommend Danny Sullivan‘s excellent Search Engine Land blog). I will cover some basics for a workshop today for the music staff of the CBC. When you are working on a blog post, consider these factors to help people find your post:

  • Relevance
  • Headline
  • Keywords
  • Google trends
  • Links
  • Photo captions
  • Metadata (more…)

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