Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Dispatch lifting blog stories?

[Updated with improved story link]

Ben Marrison
Columbus Dispatch
34 S. Third Street
Columbus, OH 43214

Dear Mr. Marrison:

We have no idea what your editorial staff think of those of use who spend a few hours each day to research stories and post information on our blogs. We can only assume that they don't think much of us since the Dispatch has never really acknowledge the fact that Ohio bloggers exist as anything of serious concern. In fact, any mention of any blogs on your pages has never really has risen above gossip-linked stories in your Life section or a technical curiosity in your Connect section.

But the issue of the Dispatch burying it's head in the sand about bloggers is not really the purpose of this letter. The point of this letter is to let you know that it's one thing to ignore us. It's another to rip us off while pretending we don't exist.

We've heard this complaint from other bloggers, however we don't know the particulars of these alleged transgressions.

On the other hand, we do know our situation first hand and we have to tell you that we were pretty pissed after finding two stories/squibs in today's paper that we think were stolen from our blog, Hypothetically Speaking (www.loganselm.blogspot.com). Both of these were in the paper's "Capital Notes" section.

The first story - this is one that we know was stolen - is titled "Agency’s ex - administrator touts successes in column" pointed out how in the summer issue of BWC's magazine, former agency head James Conrad and spokesperson Jeremy Jackson bragged about how great the Bureau's scandal-ridden investments are. From the story:
The summer edition of the quarterly magazine that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation publishes has gotten more attention than usual.
Well, we don't know how much attention it has gotten elsewhere, but we do know that we were the first to break this story, way back on June 13.

If it hadn't been for stealing this BWC story, we'd have probably been willing to give the paper the benefit of the doubt regarding the second case of journalistic theft. The story in question is titled "Gov . Taft gave stern speech on ethics during May seminar".

This is essentially the same story we posted on June 23. Actually, we didn't break the story - we only tried to joke about it a little more. In fact, it was Julie Carr Smyth at the Plain Dealer who broke the story and we made a point of crediting her at the time.

And giving credit where credit is due is really the point we are trying to make. It doesn't bother us if one of your reporters wants to use some of our stories or materials as a starting point. We'd even feel flattered. But - and this is true whether it's done by a commercial media outlet or even another blog - we think there is an ethical if not legal need to acknowledge the source and give proper credit. We are sure you feel the same way about Dispatch's stories.

Now, we do have to say that it strikes us as more than coincidence that both stories were written by Mark Niquette, and maybe that's where the fault lays. We have written about serious doubts and criticisms we've had about Mark's reporting in the past, so his involvement with these stories didn't really surprise us.

Regardless, we'd like to know what the Dispatch's policy is on crediting sources of stories, and what Niquette and his editors say happened with these stories.


The staff at Hypothetically Speaking


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