New York Times and Edelman: A Step Back

What are lessons to take away from the discussion about the story the NYTimes did on Edelman working with bloggers.
Heather Green

Still now, reading the discussions going on online about the story the New York Times did about Edelman and how it's working with blogs, I feel the need to take a step back and consider what I feel the real takeaway from the story is. The basic issue I still see is that printing a press release or an email word-for-word doesn't make sense for anyone involved, unless you say that's what you're doing.

I don't think this is the Times turning a non-story into a story or that it's a sign of the Times still seeing blogs as a threat. They have reported on this kind of thing before, such as when they reported on TV stations simply running videos packaged as news and distributed by the White House. But I also don't think it means that companies shouldn't work with blogs.

I don't think it's a non story because one of the keys strengths I love about blogging is that it gives you the ability to express your own voice. I think that becomes compromised when you repeat something word for word without sourcing it. And I don't know about you, but I agree with Umair Haque at Bubblegeneration that eventually this lack of transparency will out, and it will hurt not just the bloggers, but the companies working with them like Edelman.

The issue of reporters' credibility is of course an issue this days. And being skeptical of the press makes sense. But asking the traditional press to lay out who they meet with, how many emails they get, and what they think of them is sort of the same thought as asking traditional reporters to lay out all their bios, such as who they voted for, where they went to school, or how much they make. You think it will give you a picture, but it will only give you a lot of data points to interpret in many different ways.

The very basic thing about being a reporter, either in the traditional press or among blogs, is that you need to talk to many people on any story. If a reporter doesn't do this, sooner or later, through exposes like the Times, or criticism at blogs, you'll be exposed for toeing a company line.

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