More Bad Journalism
Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom lifted quotes from other publications without attribution and in some stories quotes appeared to be slightly changed from how they appeared elsewhere, according to a Free Press investigation of their embattled star writer.Now of course this could just be a signal of the News attacking its crosstown rival. But when was the last time you saw one newspaper go after another so openly? Most of the time the journalists close ranks similar to the famous "Blue Wall of Silence" of police officers. When was the last time you saw an episode of 60 Minutes or Nightline that attacked 'big business?' Pretty recently, I'll bet. When was the last time that 'big business' was the MSM or some organ thereof? Never, that's when. This article, however, hits the Free Press and its star sports reporter hard.
Now the investigation itself is under fire, as several reporters who worked on the review say editors emphasized elements that supported Albom rather than criticized him.
The issue matters to more than those who work in the downtown Detroit office that houses both The Detroit News and the Free Press. At a time when public trust in the media is low, credibility is a treasured commodity.
What the reporting team found was a number of cases in which Albom used quotes from other publications without telling readers, making it seem as if he had gathered the quotes himself. Such a practice violates the ethics policy of the Free Press, posted on the paper's Web site.And over and over.
Instead of leading with the ethics violations, the headline and lead of the Monday story in the Free Press emphasized that no pattern of deception had been found.
A reporter at USA TODAY was fired recently for lifting quotes from the Indianapolis Star without attributing those quotes to the other publication.Take that Free Press! The Detroit News has higher standards than its bigger rival. Heck even a dumb ol' blogger like me gives credit to the people I steal from. It's called a hyperlink, Mitch! Use them! Love them! They will set you free. Or you can take the green pill and you'll wake up in the morning as if nothing happened.
Such a practice also violates the ethics policy of The News. "Lifting quotes without attribution from another publication or from a broadcast report would be a violation of our ethics policy -- for reporters and for columnists," said Mark Silverman, publisher and editor of The Detroit News.
The investigation also uncovered instances when Albom lifted quotes from other publications and apparently changed them, either intentionally or accidentally. In several instances, the quotes as appearing in Albom's stories "seemed to be livelier," the Free Press reported.Any blogger who tried to do this sort of thing would be found out immediately. One of our readers would click the link, catch the error and beat us about the head and shoulders. Then we'd lose our reputation and nobody would come here to read our drivel. But does the Free Press even take advantage of the technology that would avoid these problems in their online publication? Nope.
While journalists argue about the proper levels of attribution in stories, there is no debate over changing quotes, McBride said. "That was one of the most troubling things about the report," she said. "What's in between the quote marks is sacred. If you need to make it more lively, you paraphrase it."
So what's going to happen is the Free Press is going to lose its credibility and people aren't going to read them. And the Free Press, and the MSM generally, will continue to bleed revenue until rivals replace them. Web-based sports reporting seems like a completely viable alternative. It's relatively inexpensive and the technology to deliver all sorts of features is very broad.
The rule of the jungle will catch up to the MSM in all its forms. It's adapt to changing conditions or go the way of the Woolly Mammoth. And right now the Free Press is unprepared for the ice age.
(HT: Mark Tapscott via Insty) (And yes, I was trying to operate around a movie theme. Deal with it.)
Here is the original article from the Free Press. These four 'graphs pretty much say it all.
A Free Press review of more than 600 columns by Mitch Albom has found no evidence of problems similar to an April 3 column in which Albom, with an editor's knowledge, misled readers by writing about events that never occurred at a basketball game.Are they frickin' serious? This sounds like the everybody does it defense in conjunction with the one free pass excuse. Oh and there's also a tinge of the ignorance IS a defense theory.
However, the inquiry found that Albom at times has used quotes from newspapers, TV programs or other publications without indicating that he did not gather the material himself, in violation of Free Press rules on crediting sources. In several instances, Albom did not credit quotes exclusively gathered by another media organization.
Albom was not alone in this. The review found that other Free Press columnists also have failed to give credit for quotes gathered by other news organizations.
Free Press Publisher and Editor Carole Leigh Hutton said the problems reflect a lack of familiarity with the paper's rules on attribution. She said she would take steps to address the problems.
Does anybody seriously think the Free Press would allow this paper thin defense stand if the subject of their investigation was accused of sexaul harassment, for example? No way and everybody knows it. This is a fundamental problem that cannot be addressed with a shrug of the Free Press' journalistic shoulders.
Mitch Albom continues to be a frightening little dwarf but now I know he's a frightening little dwarf without integrity.