Broadening the discussion on the state of blogging begun by Dr. James Joyner and Dr. Bernard Finel, blogfriend Cheryl Rofer at Phronesisaical delves into the stratification and attribution issues that have been wrought in the blogosphere by the MSM:
….Once upon a time, the blogosphere was a sort of talent night, a talent 24/7, with entertainment for all. Much of that is still there, but some of the talent has gone pro; Kevin Drum, Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias and others have joined the MSM or think tanks and link only to each other. Some days there is almost a perfect linking circle of Drum quoting Klein quoting Yglesias quoting Drum. Drum got linked from The Economist blog the other day, moving up one more notch. Stratification. The MSM, meanwhile, still doesn’t understand the idea of hyperlinks but provides something they call blogs at their sites. Some of these are actually blogs, like Ezra Klein’s at the WaPo. Some are more like newspaper columns with more depth or specialization, like Olivia Judson’s at the NYT. Some are sui generis, like the Gail and David show at the NYT. Others are clearly from reporters who have been told that they will produce a blog, probably not much more instruction provided.And then there’s the problem of the MSM simply stealing bloggers’ material (or those somewhere below them on the food chain) and not crediting it. I’ve seen this pretty unambiguously many times over the almost six years I’ve been blogging. And then there are situations where it’s not quite clear that material has been cribbed, but someone in the MSM says something that looks an awful lot like something I read days before in a blog. As a blogger friend said, “I think they call it research.” Or they don’t take it seriously enough. Today someone on The Oil Drum asked if the MSM was reading their threads, which have much more good information than anything I’ve seen on the BP Blowout in the MSM. Of course, it’s mixed, and there are some just plain dumb comments, but hey! that’s what the reporters get the big bucks to filter, right?
Read the rest here.
Cheryl brings up a number of points about blogging from an information ecology standpoint I had not really considered when I reacted to Bernard’s post. I’ve noticed ideas or arguments that have been “liberated” from blogs I read in the media with some frequency in recent years and I think I first noticed a MSM outlet cribbing a paragraph, almost verbatim from me circa 2006. At the time, I laughed, but Cheryl’s considered point that attribution is important is not something peculair to the blogosphere – it’s actually the traditional standard for scholarship and journalism. Bloggers, reporters, academics, government officials – anyone writing in the public sphere – should hew to it.
When in doubt, adding the little quotation marks, a link or a hat tip is still the best course of action – it saves headaches down the road.
Peter weighs in at The Strategist.