Tag Archives: press citationality ethics

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 What humors me most is that they cite my blog but do not cite the actual entry which provides much more relevant information.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.