Daily Archives: September 2, 2009

Dear Associated Press: Come On, Attribution is Not That Hard

I bitched about this a little in my Twitter feed, but I’ll bitch about it a little bit more here, too: I’m vaguely annoyed at the Associated Press, which quoted me in its story about yesterday’s Google outage, but which attributed the quote to “another user,” rather than to “John Scalzi.” Which means a professional journalist was either unwilling or unable to do what hundreds of Twitter users (most, one assumes, not professional journalists) did without a problem when they retweeted what I wrote: Accurately sourced the quote. It’s not that hard to accurately source a quote on Twitter, you know: Just follow the “@” sign in the tweet.

I snarked about the AP Sourcefail on Twitter and folks there wondered if it was part and parcel of the mainstream media’s antipathy for all things electronic, but I don’t think it’s that. It’s 2009, folks, and most mainstream journalists really are hip to that whole Internet thing now, and are indeed hoping to one day monetize a blog, in the way they used to dream of having a column on a section front. Rather, I think it was just a bit of laziness on the AP reporter’s part.

Mind you, my gripe about it, couched though it is in a snarky observation of journalistic standards, has a significant self-serving component: That AP story went out to hundreds of newspapers and online sites, and as a working writer with an ego, it would have been nice to have a clever comment with my name accurately appended to it in all those places. That said, I am pretty sure that when I was working in newspapers, had I filed a story with a quote attributed to “some guy,” my editor would have been standing over my desk a few minutes later lecturing me on basic reporting practices.

Oh, well. At least Gawker got it right. And, also, hundreds of amateurs on Twitter.