Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Combest: Newspapers should cite blogs when they provide information

Blogger John Combest, whose daily roundup of political headlines can be found in the links on the right-hand side of this page (and his blog will be there soon) offers criticism in a post aimed at newspapers that take stories from bloggers and do not give credit.
Apparently, in the case that caused Combest to comment, the Kansas City Star ran with a story that was broken by the Arch City Chronicle blog and did not give the blog credit.
As those of you who have read this blog for a while know, I have had an instance or two in which similar slights have occurred (primarily with the Joplin Globe), but the Springfield News-Leader and Neosho Daily News, among others, have acted responsibly and have given credit where credit is due.
For the most part, newspaper editors realize the need to cite sources for those stories, even when those sources are blog.


Anonymous said...

They should not be using blogs as a source. If the read information on a blog they should research that information and confirm it themselves.

Anonymous said...

Just because a story appears in a newspaper after a blog doesn't mean that the blog was the source or the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

When bloggers start citing their sources, then journalists should do the same.

Randy said...

I will agree with not the first commenter, but if a blog breaks a story through digging through documents, or through any other kind of enterprise reporting, then newspapers should at least note who originally published the story. That is common courtesy and it is the way it is done at ethical media outlets. The second commenter also makes a valid point, and I have never claimed that. Stories to which I have referred are ones which I did original reporting on and my information was pretty much lifted without the reporter even checking through the source documents I used. I have written about one such instance in the past in detail. I also partially agree with the third commenter. Journalists should cite their sources, whenever possible, and when it is not possible, they should provide as much information as they can about the source so the reader can at least determine its credibility. I would also argue the distinction the commenter makes between bloggers and journalists. I have seen several bloggers who are journalists, and I have seen many who work in the news departments of print and electronic media organizations that may call themselves journalists, but they are anything but.

Unknown said...

Good point, they should cite other newspapers when they do the same!

Gunther Eysenbach MD MPH said...

Of course - blogs should be cited, by journalists, and also (even more important) in an academic context.

A lot of people (including lawyers, publishers, editors) now use WebCite (, which allows anybody to take a stable snapshot of any URL, which will be permanently preserved (WebCite is a member of the International Internet Preservation Consortium). The citation format would then be then something like

Adam. How to Better Cite Blogs. Emergent Chaos - The Emergent Chaos Jazz Combo of the Blogosphere (Blog). URL: Accessed: 2008-03-14. (Archived by WebCite® at )

This ensures that the readers sees exactly the same content as the citing author (even if the content changes).

Some bloggers - who feel it is important to be cited properly - also put a "WebCite this!" on their blog (link to - prepopulating this form with stable metadata such as the author name and blog title) so that the blog is accurately cited and automatically archived if somebody cites it. This also goes a long way if the blogger has to proof - for some reason - the sequence/priority of ideas, data, stories etc. - esp. important in academia.