Tuesday, March 28, 2006

On my Bristols

I don't have time to go into an explanation of the Cockney rhyming slang which underlies this title - suffice to say it means "irritation". I really, really hate it when mainstream news organisations rip off content from bloggers without any attempt at attribution. Here's a classic, a really shameless, textbook example. Andy Abramson breaks the story about the Skype lawsuit (which I covered here), and now, amazingly, today ZDNet UK has a "breaking story" on the suit (it was the lead headline item in the breaking news alert emailed to me a few minutes ago). Any mention of Andy or where the story came from? Not on your life.

I don't know about Andy's audit trail, or anyone else's for that matter, but my trusty Sitemeter tag tells me that CNET Europe has been in my site a number of times in recent days - and more than once in the past 24 hours. At the very best, this is highly suspicious - there's at least one potential link between between Andy's post and the ZDNet article, and I'm reasonably sure it's not the only one (Bloglines shows that Andy's original post has been linked to 36 times, and his followup post 33 times).

I guess those of us who read blogs will know where the kudos for originating the story lie, but the honest truth is that a lot of investors out there who don't will think this ZDNet article is some sort of genuine piece of investigative reporting. Not only is this bad journalism, it's also bad business strategy from a company which claims to understand the internet. Having missed the story for two days while countless thousands were reading it on other sites (each of which naturally attributed the scoop to Andy), it's downright silly to come in as a latecomer with something like this, pretending that it isn't being discussed elsewhere. Surely it would have been better to play the story by writing about how the story itself came to light, or about the growing significance of bloggers - but I guess some people find that sort of thing a bit threatening.

UPDATE: Jeff Pulver chimes in with some additional background to the effect that the original article appeared in the US the day before. A comment on his post also points out that Internet News also failed to mention Andy. Looks like the mainstream media just figured out the ultimate outsourcing strategy.

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