Best of the Free Content

There’s a pattern emerging in the news media nowadays where “journalists” desperate for content and having no original ideas of their own look to blogs and summarize their content.

And then there’s those who simply copy entire blog posts verbatim, and assume that since they’re attributing the content they can do so freely. It’s like if I copied an entire book on my website, but since I credited the author it’s not copyright infringement.

Mama Fagstein (hi mom!) was the first to notice the Toronto Sun “quoting” me in its Best of the Blogs last week. Normally I’m all about being recognized in traditional media, but this one irks me for a few reasons:

  • They got the address of the blog wrong. Since they found the post enough to copy it in its entirety, you’d think they got that part right at least.
  • Nobody contacted me about it. I’m not saying you need permission to point to a blog post, but sending me an email would have gotten my last name, which they apparently couldn’t find with all their journalistic skills.
  • The story doesn’t have a byline. So I have no one to complain to.
  • They got my position wrong. I suppose I can forgive them for thinking “flicking brilliant” was praising the Liberal campaign. But nowhere do I say I “stand by” the campaign. The point of the post was to criticize the NDP criticism.
  • The one sentence of original content got two things wrong.

Not that I’m complaining or anything.

Here’s a bit of irony for you: An example of how to do things right comes from the blog of Toronto Sun employees, who put up a blog post mentioning my post about the Sun’s national editorial policy. You’ll notice they link directly to the post and quote only a paragraph or so of it. And they also keep it well-formatted.

3 thoughts on “Best of the Free Content

  1. Pingback: Fagstein » Constructive criticism for old media online

  2. mmc

    The irony never ceases… I just clicked on the Sun link. They have the audacity to ask for $12 (plus GST) for the right to read the article.


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