Everyone is buzzing today about the new ethics for Internet reporting dictated by David Carr (correction: Carr is not involved in the plan, he merely wrote about it), Simon Dumenco, Adam Moss and a few other notables, and by everyone I mean a bunch of nerds who write things on the Internet, myself included.
Carr has been a fierce defender of all things good about journalism, and he has valid points. The problem with the plan is that they are coming at this like the United Nations. This is the wild west, nobody is going to care about some badge. They're talking Geneva Convention, we need land mines and bunker busters. Less Stringer, more Avon. This is the Internet. We don't want talk and group meetings, we want rash retaliatory attacks. Therefore, I've nominated myself as the new sheriff of the blogosphere. Let's go ahead and get the ball rolling.
Being a reporter is a shitty gig most of the time. You get paid crap. You get yelled at by editors. You get yelled at by people on the street. You bust your ass for great stories, and then they get ignored. So when you have a worthwhile story that gets picked up on the Internet, it's a triumphant feeling. Having your story linked to or aggregated, as long as you're given due credit, creates a sense of validation. It makes you put that law school application away for another six months. You may still not be able to pay your rent, but at least the people out there recognize that you're doing good work and should be paid attention to.
And that's the great thing about working for a publication like this. You get to draw attention to all the reporters working their ass off to tell great stories who otherwise might not find this audience. I'll go out of my way to attribute a story to someone, and so do the other writers here, from what I've seen. Because we're not a bunch of assholes. Sending you somewhere else after you read a story here impacts us negatively in absolutely no way. So when someone steals your story and doesn't even bother attributing it to you, especially on the Internet, where it's so easy to add in one little link, it's fucking infuriating. It just makes that hard work seem even more worthless.
The most egregious organization when it comes to these offenses, and I'm sure this is one of the main sites that Carr has in mind, is the Daily Mail. That's why my first order of business as Internet media sheriff is to tell the Daily Mail to go fuck themselves and to do whatever I can to not give them traffic.
It's not just that they steal stories so blatantly. They've been doing it for years, this is nothing new. It's that they're a bunch of assholes about it. They go out of their way to fuck over journalists and they reap the benefits by becoming the most highly trafficked newspaper on the Internet. How hard would it be to put in one link to an article?
I'm sure their entry level "journalists" who scour the Internet daily for sites to rip off don't enjoy being a bunch of thieving assholes. But they are. And the people in charge, the one's who most certainly have instituted a policy of non-attribution, sit back and reap the profits.
I've certainly linked out to The Daily Mail before. I follow their twitter. They are great at aggregating and regurgitating stories, so it's a real shame they can't have just a little bit of honor amongst thieves, a shred of common decency, and credit the sites and reporters where they get their stories. So here is what I'm going to do. When I find a story on the Daily Mail I really like and want to write up, I'm going to take an extra five minutes and google some of the key words. I'm going to find the original story, or at least something close to, and I'm going to post that instead. I'd encourage you, if you're in the position to drive traffic somewhere, be it through your own personal social media use or your job, to do the same.
Say it with me now: The Daily Mail can go fuck itself.
My second decree is that no one over the age of 25 should be reading Thought Catalog. You're embarrassing yourself. Just stop.
[pic via Shutterstock]