iOS app Android app More

Martin Varsavsky

Martin Varsavsky

Posted: May 31, 2007 05:15 AM

Should The New York Times and The Economist Live By The Rules Of the Internet?


A journalist at The New York Times told me yesterday that as opposed to top blogs, The New York Times does not normally link to sources of their stories in their internet edition. Today Tim O'Reilly points this out in referring to a New York Times story that cites me but does not link to my blog. In this case the source of the story is my story on Anne Wojcicki and 23andme. This is what the New York Times wrote. Their article is inspired by the original post when I blogged about the company in January and the recent post in which I praise Anne for getting her company funded. But when you read the New York Times article it really sounds like they interviewed...my blog. Is asking The New York Times to link to blogs when they quote from them asking the most important newspaper in the world to adapt to new rules that are not part of their culture?

And The New York Times is not alone in this. A similar problem arises with The Economist, arguably the best magazine in the world. Recently I was interviewed by The Economist. When the story came out, not only did they not link to my company, Fon, but I saw that The Economist journalists do not sign their own articles. At least in the case of The New York Times I was able to send an email to Katie Hafner who wrote the article asking her to link to the source. But in the case of The Economist, you are being covered anonymously, something that in the world of blogs is generally reserved to commenters, not authors.

So, for example, if The Economist writes what in this case was a well-written, balanced story on the state of affairs in Spain, you have nobody to thank. The opposite could also be true. Personally I think that journalists worldwide learn as much from feedback as bloggers do from commenters. Recently I had a chance to meet John Micklethwait, The Economist editor in chief, and question their policy of anonymity. His reply was that The Economist does not plan to change it, that it has served the magazine well over the years. I guess John has a point. A magazine that has been in continous publication since 1843 and a newspaper that has been in continous print since 1857 probably have earned the right to live by their own rules. Still as these publications migrate from print to the internet I wish they followed the transparency rules that all of us in the internet are used to.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: www.twitter.com/martinvars