Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Overdue Credit

There are bloggers who want to tell you about the fungus growing between their toes and then there are people like Josh Marshall, Duncan Black and the folks at

While some bloggers, justifiably, get knocked for silly, stupid and navel-gazing offerings, others are busy turning their blogs into sites of original reporting, research and information. Just as we don't confuse the Weekly World News with The New York Times, so should we not confuse these bloggers, who do their own work or provide links to solid, well-reported professional and amateur journalists, with people who put up a half-thought-out, expletive-laced screed.

Are they journalists? Well, in many cases, the people mentioned above and others have writen for well-regarded publications, either online or in print. Does working online negate their work? I don't think so. So why shouldn't they get credit when they break a story?

It was, after all, bloggers, some with specific political agendas but accurate and thorough, who nailed Republican congressional candidate Howard Kaloogian falsely claiming to have found that the streets of Baghdad are safer than we, the media, want to report. And why would we misrepresent the facts? Because, Kaloogian says, "...many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism." That's a pretty serious smear that merits a response from any paper with a foreign correspondent risking his life in Iraq.

I'm not sure which blog had this Kaloogian story first, but quite a few sites went after the candidate, even finding proof of where his bogus "Baghdad" picture was actually taken and catching him claiming to have been "just back" from Iraq when, in fact, he was there in July. So, I repeat, why don't bloggers get the credit that they deserve?

And are copy editors and assigning editors obligated to keep an eye on the blogs, reading them in the same way they read competing newspapers? I'm convinced that we do have that obligation, though how we'd find the time is a bit unclear. Are some savvy reporters just dialing in to certain web sites and scooping up leads to stories? I have long suspected that is a favorite trawling place for reporters at a certain newspaper I read regularly, having many, many times seen something mentioned there, only to read it in that newspaper a few days later. I'm not opposed to using these sites for information--I think it's great. I'm just talking
about credit.

UPDATE: See? It's not that hard to give credit where it's due. This, in fact, goes well beyond simple credit, turning into a story about the reporting itself.

UPDATE 2: The AP comes around, crediting TPMMuckraker on the story about ex-running great and now congressman Jim Ryun and his questionable housing deal. Clarification reported at TalkingPointsMemo, of course.

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