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Journalists rebuke Bloggers who Rebuke Journalists

A terribly amusing exchange between a New Yorker writer John Colapinto and Mollie Wilson about whether his profile of Paul McCartney was worthwhile.

I have nothing really to add except that when you blog about things writers say, make sure to mention the name of the writer who said it. Frequently bloggers quote something and then say it’s from “the New Yorker” or “the Economist” or “Time Magazine.” In fact, individuals (not corporations) wrote these pieces. There are two practical reasons for making sure to use complete names. First, it makes it easy for the original writer to locate what the blogosphere is saying about your stuff. Second, what happens when Time magazine goes out of business or starts putting  their content behind a firewall? Often writers keep duplicate copies of these articles on a personal website, so it may be possible to trace the article to the person’s home site. (On the other hand, the wayback machine has proven to be fairly competent in digging up archived version of articles from a particular day’s snapshot).

Finally, writers never are paid enough for what they do. By explicitly crediting a writer on a blogpost, you create an opportunity for the reader to find other articles by that same writer. You also create an opportunity for that writer to make a profit from this name recognition.

A few years ago, a journalist for a major European business magazine pretty much pilfered ideas and phrases from an article I wrote a few months earlier. Really, I didn’t care about that, but I did care about the fact that I was never named and didn’t receive any of the web traffic. This article was syndicated everywhere and eventually ran on yahoo. It would have been nice if every time the article was syndicated a hyperlink to my site could have been made available.

Bloggers are used to asymetrical relationships on the web. C-list and D-list bloggers like myself are always mentioning names of other commentators or writers on our blogs without receiving (or expecting) reciprocity. Not that I consciously try to spread my name out there, but I would estimate that for every 100 or 200 times I mention someone’s name on my blog, my name gets mentioned once. Hey, life is unfair; it’s just part of the blogging game; I’m not really complaining.

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