Today's kudos for impeccable media ethics go to the New York Post, which fails to credit bloggers not once, but twice, for stories that would have never crossed its radar screen were it not for the oft-maligned blogosphere. On a tip, TVNewser broke the news yesterday morning of Katie Couric's not-so discreetly airbrushed and slimmed down photo on the cover of a CBS magazine. This morning's Post ran a front page article on Couric's phantom weight-loss — but without any attribution to the source of the story, presumably leaving readers who don't know any better with the distinct impression that Post employees are really, really observant. The story is now a "legitimate" news item (with Drudge linking the headline item "CBS Makes Katie 'Slimmer'" to the NYP article) and CBS on the defensive: this morning's NY Daily News quotes CBS News President Sean McManus as being "obviously surprised and disappointed when I heard about it," though Couric, to her credit, seems to be handling the whole thing with aplomb (remember, she's funny!). (Incidentally, the NYDN also fails to credit TVNewser over the "Photoshop shocker", though Romenesko, tellingly, gives credit to TVNewser in his own linked post. For good measure, the NY Post also failed to credit Wonkette for breaking the story of Kyra Phillips' live-mic bathroom snafu (ripped straight out of the opening scene of Naked Gun, for those who care to remember). Both NYP stories were written by Don Kaplan.
What makes this particularly egregious is how obvious the lift is: TVNewser is the leading cable news blog by a mile, avidly read by industry insiders and people who can't get enough of Anderson Cooper. TVNewser editor Brian Stelter posted the Couric item at 1:50 a.m. on August 29th, which meant it was front and center to greet morning media surfers. It was immediately picked up across the blogosphere (66 Technorati links and counting), with hits — and due credit — from Lost Remote, Pajamas Media, Instapundit, FishbowlNY, Newsbusters, LA Observed and our own Eat The Press. (Hat tip also to the international blogosphere, and Spain's Guerra Eterna, which sums it all up thusly: "Bueno, pues lo que la naturaleza no te puede dar ya, el photoshop sí te lo concede... En televisión, la imagen es fundamental." Well said, Iñigo, well said.)
This isn't the first time mainstream media outlets have run stories without attribution to online sources (recall, for instance, the still-unresolved case of the New York Times ripping off the Romenesko salary item from Mediacrity last summer), and it's one that TPM's Josh Marshall finds particularly vexing (see also MB's Greg Lindsay on the subject).
It's an interesting debate, and one worth having, in part because the stakes are real, and so are the principles involved. Notwithstanding the arguments made against the "derivative" nature of dubiously-assessed "online journalism"), one thing is clear: "Mainstream" journalists can't keep on knocking bloggers for being derivative when they continue to take credit for their work.
— Sven Hodges
UPDATE: The AP has the story too — sans reference to TVNewser. Come on, people, do you think we can't read?
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: More at Google News. Sheesh. MSM, clean up your act.
HORRIFIED UPDATE TO THE UPDATE'S UPDATE: The CBS Public Eye blog writes up the item and credits the Daily News!!!! Public Eye, you're supposed to stand for transparency and accuracy and all that is fine and noble in journalism!!! Plus, don't you read TVNewser? Please fix.
With Rachel Sklar