The Case Of The Missing Link (NYT Division)

Right after the hardworking staff wrote about the New York Times’ failure to credit the Nation for its groundbreaking investigation of the U.S. military’s digraceful personality disorder discharges, this turns up in GigaOM (via Mediabistro’s Morning Media Newsfeed):

Is linking just polite, or is it a core value of journalism?

Late last week, TechCrunch writer MG Siegler broke the news that Apple was buying an app-discovery service called Chomp — although he didn’t say where that news came from, just that it was a reliable source. The Wall Street Journalreported the same news several hours later, confirmed by an Apple source, but didn’t link to Siegler, who then wrote aprofanity-laced tirade criticizing the WSJ for its failure to include a link to him in its story (we at GigaOM, meanwhile, wrote about why the acquisition made sense for Apple, and credited TechCrunch with breaking the story).

I’ve argued before that I think this failure to link is a crucial mistake that mainstream media outlets make, and also an issue of trust: since the Journal must know that at least some people saw the Siegler post, why not link to it? The only possible reason — apart from simply forgetting to do so — is that the paper would rather try to pretend that it was the first to know this information (and it also apparently has a policy of not linking if a WSJ reporter can independently confirm the news).

The GigaOM writer, Matthew Ingram, says it’s a matter of reader trust and journalistic fairness, and provides a Storify version of the discussion that followed.

Granted, the Times/Nation case is not about hot news misappropriation (or impropriety), but rather a sort of historical credit for groundbreaking work. So maybe the hardworking staff is way off base here.

Regardless, we’ve sent a note to the Times Public Editor to see what he thinks. We’ll keep you posted.

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