As the MSM Pull More Stories from the Blogosphere and Internet-only News Sites, It's Time to Revise Their Policies for Crediting Original Sources
It's Not About Ego or Even Plagarism...It's About Credibility and the Truth, Stupid
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2006, 8:40am PT  

In case you missed it, AP recently lifted an article as researched and written by RAW STORY and published a version of it as their own. Along the way, they seem to have forgotten to give RAW the attribution they deserved for the many hours of research and work they put into the story in order to file the piece in the first place.

RAW's Larisa Alexandrovna originally discovered the gem after plowing through a bunch of Bush Administration policy statements on National Security Clearance policies and comparing the most recent version to previous versions of that same policy side-by-side. One of the RAW researchers confirmed her work and the subtle, but important changes she found, and then Larisa, along with RAW's Executive Editor John Byrne finally filed the piece at

After all of that hard work, a human rights group shared RAW's story with AP who eventually filed their own very familiar story using the work as originally unearthed by RAW. They've since admitted to being given RAW's article and using it as the starting point for their own work, which walks a dangerously close line towards plagarism.

But even as they now admit that their story originated with RAW's reporting, they still refuse to give credit where credit's due. They've now given several lame and still-changing reasons for failing to acknowledge the "oversight" including "we do not credit blogs" and later, "we only credit blogs we know."

Larisa writes about the matter at Huff Po here and here, and John Byrne wrote an article covering AP's comments and comparing both articles directly for RAW here.

Setting aside the fact that RAW STORY is NOT EVEN A BLOG --- apparently any independent news source which originates on the Internet is now considered a "blog" by some in the MSM...all the easier to dismiss them by, we suppose --- The BRAD BLOG is a blog and yet we find the practice of failing to give us due credit equally objectionable for the many stories we have broken which were later picked up by the MSM as well.

Though most "blogs" do not do the sort of original reporting that we do here, it's certainly harder to argue that we're not one --- what with the word "BLOG" in our name and all. And yet, I'm forced to ask: What the hell does the word "blog" have to do with anything anyway?

Journalism is journalism is journalism. The quality of the reporting and the journalism therein is what matters no matter the name given to the media originating the work.

The reason that all of this matters is not so that Larisa or RAW or even myself or The BRAD BLOG receives some form of personal adulation or ego stroke for our hard work.

So if not for the good of our own personal self-esteem, why does proper credit to such sources really matter?...

It matters because while Internet news sites such as RAW, and yes BRAD BLOG, continue to dig and investigate and report day in and day out on stories that matter to this country and this world, recognition for that work by others is paramount to our ability to continue to produce such work. Appropriate recognition and attribution from others is essential if we are to see our work picked up elsewhere and otherwise advanced by officials and the Mainstream and any other damned Media source which can add to that reporting and bring us all closer eventually to whatever truth is contained therein!

I've noticed a very similar pattern emerging of late as more and more MSM outlets pick up on much of the Election Integrity/Reform/Fraud issues that we've been reporting on steadily and doggedly for almost two years now. I've been polite, yet fairly persistent, in pointing it out along the way.

While I'm very happy to see MSM outlets bring stories which orginated here to a wider audience, I don't seek personal credit for myself or this Internet news site simply because it's nice to see my name in the Washington Post or AP or USA Today.

The reason it's important for these outlets to give proper attribution --- aside from being polite and appropriate and professional and we always do the same for them --- is because their recognition of the credibility of our work from yesterday lends credibility to our work in the future.

Like RAW STORY, I've seen many huge and time-consuming articles of great importance simply ignored by the MSM and even many corners of the blogosphere. It's very easy, therefore, for the "bad guys" to simply dismiss our work, no matter how groundbreaking and well sourced, as "insignificant" under the notion that "if it was actually important or credible it would be reported by the mainstream media." I hear that quite a bit.

Yet when it is reported later by the MSM, sometimes days, weeks, months and now even years later, they feel they needn't mention where those stories orginated.

So tomorrow's time-consuming and important exposé will yet again be ignored (happily) by the "bad guys" until such time as AP or New York Times or the Fort Worth Star Telegram decides they wish to run a recycled version of the reporting as if it's their very own.

In the meantime, those "insignificant" "couldn't be credible" sites like RAW STORY and BRAD BLOG, and many others like us (Larisa mentions just a few of them in her piece), press on, beg for $5 and $10 donations so we can simply "put food on our families" (as Dubya would say) and hope to survive yet another week to report yet another ground-breaking story for the MSM to later treat as an anonymous tip whenever --- and if --- they feel like it so that the "bad guys" implicated in the meantime can cross their fingers, hold their breath, and simply hope to see it all just go away.

RAW STORY has been doing the work of angels for more than two years. BRAD BLOG has been doing the work of fallen angels for just about the same amount of time.

We'd both like to continue to do so. Yet when the MSM fail to bestow on us their magic blessing of "credibility" via proper and appropriate attribution, despite the proven credibility of our work (time and time again), it may serve their own business interests in staving off the rise of the independent citizen journalists...But it certainly does nothing for the cause of true journalism --- and more importantly for the search for truth, which everyone who even dabbles in this particular field should admit as being the ultimate goal of our collective work.

These truths should be self-evident. No matter which of us are on the salaried payrolls of huge multinational conglomerates or willing to bow our heads with humility and a touch of shame simply to beg for a few more dollars to help make this month's rent. No matter whether our journalistic and credible work is distrubuted via newsprint, cyberprint, Internet news site or "blog"...whatever the hell that means.

AP should set the record straight concerning the story they lifted from RAW. Immediately.

And the rest of the MSM ought to get their act together and start giving credit where it is due. Because it matters.

As Stephen Colbert would say: "MSM, you're on notice."

UPDATE 4/2/06: Editor & Publisher publishes a slightly shortened/edited version of this Braditorial. Details on that --- along with another incident of MSM ripping off RAW STORY without credit, this time the Wall Street Journal --- posted right here...