On FeedDemon and Scoops

Posted by: Heather Green on May 19, 2005

Jason Calacanis is on a tear over whether CNET should give Om Malik credit for breaking the story about FeedDemon. Dave Winer has some smart points that I couldn’t agree with more. I understand that things CNET has written has already riled up Calacanis and am sure that he’s just trying to do the right thing by Om. I wanted to post about this, since Calacanis mentions us specifically in his blog.

I don’t know how Om Malik got his story, but he’s a great reporter. So I am not taking away from the fact that he did get a scoop. But sometimes when a deal or a bit of news is about to be announced, companies brief analysts and writers about it under embargo. And these people can begin to talk before the embargo is over. If they do, it’s fair game to write whatever you want.

Did Om have it public first? Yes, but apparently according to what Dave says, other people had been briefed. So, wouldn’t it be kind of weird to attribute your knowledge of something to someone…when it wasn’t true?

I hadn't been briefed and saw the ditty Fred Wilson wrote about it. I didn't do much checking around to follow the chain, but when I read Om's site later, I did want to credit that he had broken the news. But if I had been under embargo, I wouldn't have felt at all obligated to link to Om.

And speaking of attribution...the thing that puzzles me about Calacanis' Endgadget blog, for example, is that it just provides a link entitled Read to a story they are using as the basis for some of their posts. They rarely seem to say who the author or publication is. Would love to get an explanation of that or hear from other people about what they think about that.

Reader Comments

Jason

May 19, 2005 1:20 PM

With CNET it is really a pattern. It is one thing for you to not credit something because you didn't know it broke somewhere else. However, CNET has told bloggers they will not credit them and the list of cases of them not linking is huge.

In terms of the READ link that is the whole point of blogging... here is what we know and here is where it came from. You don't have to say THIS STORY IS FROM OM... you can say "This story" and underline This and make that a link to Om.

In other words, a link is credit in the blogosphere.

best j

Jack Krupansky

May 19, 2005 1:26 PM

The very concept of "scooping" or "breaking" news that has already been distributed (formally released) under "embargo" seems to be a ridiculous example of "inside baseball". I'm not a (professional) journalist, but I would suggest that to "scoop" or claim that someone had "broken the news" *should* imply that the person did some credible level of research, beyond simply reading from a script that someone had dumped in their lap.

Now, there may be additional information beyond that provided in the embargoed release presentation that *would* qualify as a "scoop", but the embargoed stuff should not.

As far as attribution, by all means lets have a "standard" that includes publication (blog) name, poster (author) name, and post title, maybe date, in addition to the actual permalink. In my view, there should be an XML "snippet" format that contains that reference/attribution info and then a software plugin to allow application or even user control of precise display format. For example, in a compressed display mode just the post title might be displayed and then a mouse-over would reveal the other info, but a full display or print might display a more rigorous bibliographic formatting of the attribution.

-- Jack Krupansky

Alex Moskalyuk

May 20, 2005 7:30 PM

I thought it was pretty clear from the comments on Om's site that CNet was (a) pre-briefed by NewsGator, (b) followed the press release. Pretty hard to credit Om if they had the story pre-written and ready to go.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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