My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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when mainstream media cite blogs

This morning, Google News informed me that i was referenced in a mainstream media article. Having not spoken to reporters for a while, i was curious what i could’ve said (and praying that it had nothing to do with Burning Man). Sure enough, i’m cited in a Sunday Times article called How they triggered war on the web. The Sunday Times never contacted me; they simply referenced something that i said on my blog. While this is pretty common practice in blogging journalism, i have never experienced this personally with mainstream media. What humors me most is that they cite my blog but do not cite the actual entry which provides much more relevant information.

Another thing that fascinates me is their choice of affiliation. The last question most reporters typically ask concerns affiliation – they want to know how to identify me in their article (and how to spell everything correctly). I typically use my Berkeley affiliation because my opinions usually stem from my academic research and may not reflect the values/ideas of my employer. In some cases, reporters print both. While i’m happy to be identified as a researcher for Yahoo!, that post has nothing to do with Y! And besides, when i wrote it i didn’t even work there. Strange strange.

I also find the reporter’s choice of tense fascinating. Rather than indicating that i wrote XYZ, the reporter states that i “maintain” XYZ. This sounds like it’s an active ongoing process, that i’ve been continuously proclaiming an opinion i wrote 2 months ago. While i do believe that 7/7 (and every major catastrophe in the last 20 years) pushes the evolution of media along, it feels a little strange to see words put into my mouth about my current opinion. I wonder what other past voices of me will become present.

::laugh:: There’s something funny about watching mainstream media pick up their reporting habits from bloggers. I wonder if we get misspellings next?

In any case, blogs must be super useful if you’re a reporter (especially if you have a propensity for procrastination). All of a sudden, there are millions of quotable opinions out there waiting to be cited. Of course, it puts a little jab into the ethics question about whether or not opinions on the web are public.

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6 comments to when mainstream media cite blogs

  • Why, were you at Burning Man?

  • Jessi Hempel

    Gotta tell you this entry made me laugh. I don’t know if I think the nyt reporter made an ethically appropriate choice, though. As a reporter – working on a story about social networks – who has spoken to you for a story before, I think I’d feel compelled to be in touch if I were going to quote you – from that aging interview or from your blog….

  • also find the reporter’s choice of tense fascinating. Rather than indicating that i wrote XYZ, the reporter states that i “maintain” XYZ. This sounds like it’s an active ongoing process, that i’ve been continuously proclaiming an opinion i wrote 2 months ago. While i do believe that 7/7 (and every major catastrophe in the last 20 years) pushes the evolution of media along, it feels a little strange to see words put into my mouth about my current opinion. I wonder what other past voices of me will become present.

  • What is it with the world today? I think the IPhone was a very cool idea, but then it came out and I think they were not ready for it. And now Google is talking about making a phone? Is everyone going to jump on the bandwagon with phones before the system is ready for them? I can see Yahoo, AOL, and yes, even the Myspace phones being next. We are going to have this influx of phones from different companies competing for the newest and coolest looking phone. And then we have all these phones out there, and the cell phone network will not be able to support them and we have very expensive palm pilots. I still have my very first cell phone from when I was 18, and look at it and realize that I now have a very large phone book. I hope that we are not jumping ahead of ourselves in making these.

  • Wow! Have you tried telling these people your concern? It’s a bit nice that you only laugh at this thing, I can’t afford to say a big mistake. If you were someone else, these people could have received a word. I really think they should be informed that their reporting standards are no longer above average and, in a way, it downgrades the credibility of people with whom they’re affiliated.