Saturday, July 02, 2005

Mediacrity (Ripped Off) In The New York Times!

Tomorrow's New York Times Sunday Business Section, online today, pays Mediacrity and the cause of blogging generally the dubious honor of picking up the Romenesko blog-salary story!

I say "dubious," because the Times story was what is known in journalism as a "rip off." That is, it fails to report where the fact that is the basis of the story (Romenesko's salary) was first reported. Here.

You see, the Times just hates reporting when blogs provide information. Can't happen! Only newspapers provide information. Blogs are just places where people chat.

As you may recall, the whole contretemps began when FishbowlDC ran an item talking about all the stuff Romenesko doesn't report. I then reported all the nice bucks Romenesko gets, and that was picked up by Andrew Sullivan, Instapundit, FishbowlNY, and many other blogs.

None of this makes it into the Times. Instead we have our hero, Times reporter Ken Belson, reporting Romenesko's salary based on "tax records," without saying that I reported them first. He then exaggerates Romenesko's salary, by lumping together his pay and benefits, and says: "On Mediacrity (which promises 'occasional rants on goofs, bias and hypocrisy in the media'), some bloggers congratulated Mr. Romenesko, while others bemoaned how little they made."

Not only does that change the role of this blog from source of information to "chat room," but it is not true. None of the nine comments "bemoaned how little they made." They commented on the bias or lack of bias in Romenesko's website--something not mentioned in Belson's story.

Jeez. Misquotations, significant omissions, an exaggeration, lack of proper attribution--all in two paragraphs. Nice job, Ken!

Well, at least I get a mention, albeit an incomplete and misleading one (and, of course, without the URL disclosed). Neither Fishbowl item is mentioned, and neither is the heart of the matter--which is that Romenesko's blog is ideologically skewed and fails to report stuff that is insufficiently PC for Jim Romenesko.

Oh well. At least the Times said something about media blogging. Who knows? Maybe next it will report Victor Navasky's hidden control over Columbia Journalism Review. That's a hell of a lot more important than Romenesko's paycheck, and that atrocity--first reported in the David M blog--remains absent from the pages of the Times. Maybe they'll even properly credit David M for breaking the story! Wow. Wouldn't that be nice?

I've asked the Times for a correction. Let's see what happens. . .

UPDATE (7/5): FishbowlNY points out that Times piece said: "Other [blogs] generate income through advertising, while others cut deals for, say, free rent."
Says Fishbowl: "Who blogs for rent? That's hilarious. If you know please tell me." Good point. I missed that on Saturday. I was too annoyed..... Say, how many inaccuracies is that (in two paragraphs)? I lost count.

UPDATE (7/6): The official response: We screwed up; you drop dead.