Bloggers need to respect old media

Updated 3:17 p.m. April 23, 2009

I was in Baltimore this weekend, which is fitting, considering some of the news that came out of the Charm City last week.

From Wired magazine blog Epicenter:

The Tribune-owned Baltimore Sun issued Jeff Quiton of Inside Charm City a cease-and-desist letter claiming that Quinton has been republishing “substantial portions” of The Sun’s content, and because the infringement was willful, Quinton could face up to $150,000 per violation in addition to lawyers fees.

The Sun took issue with Quiton copying large portions of their stories, though the suit added they don’t have a problem with a headline and a graf being used by bloggers if links are included.

It’s another case of old media taking on new media. And I am completely on the side of old media on this one.

Though I think its name is an embarrassing ode to a New York City mega-blog, Phawker is inevitably one of the big players on Philadelphia’s blog scene. The common swipe at Phawker is that much of their content is stolen – regurgitated news from the Inqy, AP and others.

I hasten to add that Phawker makes it a point to have reported columns, like Gaydar and media reviews from Paperboy, but, you know, the criticism is mostly fair. I fume when I see shit like this, where it’s hard to see what is the blogger’s and what is the reporter’s writing, and the only link is a miniscule “More” at the end of the graf.

Phawker’s natural rival is Philebrity, and we’re in about year three of their bitter divide. I’d venture to say that Philebrity does less real  reporting (Update) and may be getting more than doubled in traffic by Phawker but one reason I think they’re winning the blog war gaining more cultural recognition in particular trendy Philadelphia communities is they do not regurgitate news from other publications. It almost certainly will be obnoxious ( and usually hilarious), but Philebrity gives added value, through their analysis, and offers solid links out to their sources.

Here’s where I agree with the Baltimore Sun. Fuck bloggers who don’t give added value. They give a bad name to bloggers as a whole. A well-maintained blog should send traffic to news sources, not steal it.

Some rules I haven’t always lived by, but now maintain:

  1. Never quote more than one graf or 50 words of a feature, or one consistent thread of thought.
  2. You can paraphrase more, but never an article or argument’s entirety. Build on, don’t steal from.
  3. When paraphrasing or block-quoting, you have to give the source name.
  4. Give solid links out and, whenever possible, give a reason for your reader to follow that link. That’s the link economy.

I think Joey Jonathan Valenia, founder and editor of Phawker, is a smart enough guy and I mostly agree with his take on journalism school, but I don’t think his news stories regurgitated from media is fair.

Content aggregators and disseminators are in a higher-profit business now than content-creators, but it’s important for those bloggers to remember what they’d be without folks who are really covering the news.

Any other rules I’ve missed? What do you think about varied blog styles?