Burning issue or Bonfire of the Vanities?

Guido Fawkes posted a bad tempered homily on plagiarism yesterday.

Seems those nasty people in the press are thieving his hard-earned flannel, and the flannel of his ‘contacts’, without crediting him.

It’s interesting that he should pick out Associated Press (and the Evening Standard’s Londoner’s Diary) for particular attention on the wider issue of journalistic ethics.

A quote from his crusaders’ tirade sets the scene nicely:

Guido always tries to credit the source of a story with a link. It is not just honest and good manners, it pays dividends in traffic terms.

Problem is, sometimes it is useful/important/essential to journalistic integrity *not* to credit the source of your stories. Something ‘Guido’ learned to his embarrassment early last year.

Check the Londoner’s Diary column from 29th of March 2007 (abstract only here I’m afraid – but in the spirit of this theme, I’ll paraphrase rather than plagiarise).

Under the Paxman spotlight, and while defending his status as someone who contributes to the political process via his own scoops (as opposed to someone who shamelessly re-hashes content he’s found from the media), ‘Guido’ inadvertently (and worse, incorrectly) divulged a source for one of his ‘scoops’.

Nick Robinson was not amused.

Londoner’s Diary was though – and they went on to rub salt into the wounds by questioning the blogger’s judgment and ethics. Hmmmm – subtext.

In any case, it is frankly laughable that someone who owes his income to tittle-tattle should have the brass balls to criticise those who do likewise, as if it’s a crime of the century.

That would be like a Lehman Brothers executive taking a pop at an HBOS executive in regard to their less than careful lending policy.

The real crime is where high profile bloggers steal and take all the glory for scoops *real* investigative journalists have spent hours, days, months and years piecing together, and which newspapers have paid through the nose for. The Cult of the Amateur gives several examples.

Is it possible that the ingenious rhetorical trick of referring to ‘yourself’ in the third person has permanently impaired ‘Guido’s’ messianic ego sense of perspective?

On a side note, I wonder if ‘Guido’ has asked permission of the hacks in question as to use of their mugs in his rogues’ gallery. After all, fair use generally applies to news journalism. And, you know – that comes with responsibilities…

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