Wednesday, April 06, 2011

SF Ex Editor Clarifies Blogger
Credit Issue over Castro Story

This comment was posted to my recent essay about the Ex cribbing from another post of mine regarding the Castro theater going dark for every Monday and Tuesday night in April. The comment Stephen Buel deserves a post of its own:

I am the city editor for the "corporate media outlet" the SF Examiner. As a point of clarification, please let me note that our story was in fact a response to the story by KTVU, another "corporate media outlet." Whether their story was in fact inspired by your blog post I cannot say.

As to the larger issue of when it is appropriate to confer credit to other media outlets, whether they are "corporate media outlets" or scrappy neighborhood blogs, the standards are fairly clear. If we rely on the reporting of another news outlet and are unable to confirm the information ourselves, we should credit the other news outlet, and we do. If, on the other hand, we rereport a story and confirm the facts on our own, such credit is not customary, as was the case in this instance.

Always nice to for a daily's editor and blogger to communicate about these issues, so I told Stephen I was happy to hear from him. I also asked Eve Batey of the SF Appeal for her valuable thoughts about Stephen's comment, because she has spent a good deal of time considering media ethics for old and new media outlets. Eve said:

Every news org has their own standards for what's fair attribution, and they range anywhere from (most) new media orgs, that attribute and link to everything they can, to the more traditional big media orgs (typically print based) that will attribute nothing and rewrite nearly everything.

Buel's response seems fairly typical of the standards for old media news organizations. Which is a bit disappointing to me, because I've seen some gestures toward new media standards in some of their content! But I know that progress can be very slow for legacy news folks.

In the case we're discussing, specifically, to mention "blogs" in the story, but not by name, seems to miss an opportunity to make some progress away from that old-fashioned way of thinking. I am hopeful that by posting on this, Michael, perhaps you have encouraged at least one person to question the old media way of doing things.

The Ex is truly one of my favorite publications to read (after SFist, of course, hi Brock), and I think their staff works hard and does a lot of great stuff. I am rooting for them to succeed, and I do believe they'll have more of a chance if they act like a new media organization. So I must admit that my perspective is a bit selfish -- I want them to stick around!

Eve is one smart cookie and I agree with her about wanting the Ex to keep publishing. Reading Stephen and Eve's comments jogged my memory regarding a story in the Ex that helped me get a press pass from the San Francisco police department.

In August 2009, after the cops rejected my request for such a pass, I blogged about an Ex reporter interviewing the then-new police chief George Gascon and getting him to go on record saying press passes should be issued to bloggers and other online news sources.

I wrote: Brent Begin at the SF Examiner reported on Gascon's effort to modernize the public information office, and this terrific development was noted [that would open the pass process to more than just corporate media types].

Not only did I give credit to the publication and the writer of the story, I also linked to it because that is my custom when blogging about other sources including in my essays. That's pretty much the standard for all online-only news sites and bloggers.

Again, I thank Stephen for openly communication between us and offering an explanation. Let me repeat something I said in my critical post about the Ex's story on the Castro theater. The story was a good reminder to San Francisco's many movie-lovers to turn off the computer and TV, and help keep the historical film palace alive and well by catching a movie there.

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