Blogger Ethics Panel for Newsweek

Bloggers steal content!

For me, Newsweek was like an upside-down journalism school, where I
learned an astonishing number of bad habits, e.g., having someone else
check your facts. We poached material constantly, from newspapers, from
other publications — even from Time. Copying from Time was a
fact-checker’s dream, because we knew they took accuracy very seriously
over there. It is true that a first-year reporter at the Cape Cod Times
knew 20 times as much about journalism as I did then, but what the
heck: I wanted to work at Newsweek.

As much non-fun as the constant journo bitching has been lately, one thing I’m glad to start reading is some honesty about just how much theft there actually is in print. Hint: LOTS. Bigger papers ripping off story ideas from smaller ones is a time-honored tradition, which is why all this crabbing about bloggers linking (and giving credit, for chrissakes, not to mention traffic) is a little rich.

Via Romenesko.


5 thoughts on “Blogger Ethics Panel for Newsweek

  1. We poached material constantly, from newspapers, from other publications — even from Time.
    I think … I think that is actually what Newsweek was founded to be, sorta like an early hard-copy “blog” or readers digest of newspapers … Years and years ago I read an autobiography of Henry Luce (who founded Time of course) … if I am remembering that book correctly — and I read it like 20 years ago so I may be wrong — I seem to recall that when Time became a big success, Newsweek was launched as a kind of low-rent competitor, the object being to compile stories from around the country that had appeared in other publications. Because there was no (or little) original reporting it could sort of feed off the success of Time without having to do the work of Time.
    Anyone else remember that? I think I still have that book … I’ll have to look it up.

  2. Found the book, “Luce & His Empire,” by W.A. Swanberg, published in 1972. I was 11 then so this must be one of my dad’s old books I read in college.
    Plenty of references in the index to Newsweek but don’t see the reference I was thinking of. Maybe I made it up in my dottage.

  3. SB, it tracks, though. Anything purporting to cover the stories which are already the biggest each week is by necessity going to cull from other sources. The problem isn’t with doing that, it’s with pretending you never did and that anyone who aggregates is Satan.
    OT in my own thread, but I’m wondering if we need a lexicon for First Draft or something. It occurred to me as I was posting this that I was gonna get another comment from somebody who didn’t get the blogger ethics thing, or the “I’m killing journalism” joke, and we do have n00bs who might appreciate an introduction to things like HAMS and CATBUS and whatnot.

  4. Not to mention:
    “Everyone laughed at de Borchgrave’s copy, but we printed it anyway.”
    Which of course reminds me of Marty Peretz, who’s really made me reconsider my loathing of the idle rich.
    Blogs: anyone can print their shit. Magazines: anyone rich or well-connected enough can print their shit.

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