A reporter's perspective on blogs: what is fodder, what is not

Dateline: Tue 13 Nov 2007

A reporter at the Star weighs in about the dustup over blogging and

the newspaper: two bloggers, Renee Wilmeth at FeedMe/DrinkMe and Gary Welsh at Advance Indiana, have said they believe that their work occasionally has been lifted from their hard-working blogs and/or other

blogs and posted in the daily newspaper, without attribution.

Wilmeth first posted Friday that Susan Guyett, Talk of the Town

columnist at the Star, had lifted a couple of restaurant tidbits from her. Wilmeth's own readers brought the slight to her attention, she said. On Monday, Wilmeth noted that she suspected Star biz writer Jeff Swiatek had gotten his information about five new Downtown restaurants opening from the IBJ blog Property Lines by Cory Shouten.

Here is what the Star reporter, who asked to go nameless, says:

"They (the bloggers)are not complaining about plagiarism. They're

complaining that a reporter takes a tip from elsewhere,

investigates/confirms it, and then writes a story. Stop the presses!

"Does the food blogger notice that Susan (Guyett)cited 'Stutz

sources'? Apparently not.

"She also washes over the fact that (Jeff) Swiatek talks to named

sources involved with every single one of the five restaurants. Not

all confirm info for him, but his story is far from a rehash of info

he may have gotten tipped off from a blog. In other words, both did

actual work. And I don't think either would shed a tear if a blogger

were to comment on the news without linking to their stories or

mentioning their names."

One of my concerns was that the Star in the past fired two employees

for posting material online that came from sources other than reporting. Our undercover reporter addresses that issue by making the following

distinction:

"...a journalist is not doing wrong by noticing a kernel of news

reported by another outlet or a blog and then doing her own work to

expand upon it. She would be in the wrong, however, to just grab it and

essentially copy it," using, in effect, a cut-and-paste procedure, word

for word, etc.

We're all sensitive these days. Wilmeth's concern is understandable;

visit her blog, glean information, but hey, at least click on some ads

while you're there. As for Welsh, he's one of the hardest-working

journalists in the city, who often has a scoop, and he's a lawyer, for godsake.

But Swiatek and Guyett also work hard. It's a Gannett thing.

Here are links all around:

http://feedmedrinkme.blogspot.com/

http://www.advanceindiana.blogspot.com/

http://www.indystar.com/

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