Do Blogs Compete at a Level that Threatens Mainstream Media?

By: Reggie Middleton | Thu, Feb 18, 2010
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I received an email (posted below) from Aaron Krowne, a fellow independent blogger and founder of the Implode-a-Meter group of web sites. His blog has broken many stories in the banking and hedge fund sector, and has a fairly broad network of independent sources. I am not commenting on the validity of the assertions and accusations herein, but I am casting my opinion on the apparent attempt to belittle the credibility of the blogs.

I can speak first hand on this topic. The specialized financial and political blogs offer expertise, data and analysis that often rival the best think tanks, banks and research houses in the world. I am not exaggerating here. I happen to be quite proud of the stuff that is generated. I am also impressed at the speed and actual accuracy of the breaking stories. This depth, collective breadth, and reflexive responsive times available through the blogoshpere makes it not only a viable conduit for news, analysis, opinion and information, but also an apparent threat to the struggling mainstream media model. Reference the back and forth between CNBC and Zerohedge as an example.

The issue in the email below is one of credibility and respect for the blogosphere. I urge all to weight in, and pass the story around for comment and investigation. Followers of BoomBustBlog.com know how the material I publish is drastically different in analysis and conclusion than that to be found in the MSM, from the government, and from sell side banking institutions. Imagine if there were no independent blogger sources such as Implode-a-Meter or BoomBustBlog. Keep in mind that Implode-a-Meter has faced many a legal issue in its dissemination of rather controversial news and information, particularly when it pertains to the potential "implosion" of a financial entity. Sound familiar???

Now, on to the email from Mr. Krowne:

We knew it was happening, but it looks like it was more extensive and systematic than we first thought:

http://blog.ctnews.com/teribuhl/2010/02/16/how-long-did-new-york-times-editors-know-of-kouwes-story-copying/

On Dec. 26, 2008, an online publication covering the housing market, Mortgage Implode-O-Meter, published an exclusive news report that a group of financial services firms, led by Steven Mnuchin of Dune Capital, would be buying failed IndyMac Bank from the FDIC. IndyMac was one of the first large thrift banks to be seized by the FDIC at the start of the financial crisis.

A day later, Kouwe reported for the NYT's Dealbook that Dune Capital was expected to buy IndyMac and added two other names of buyers, JC Flowers and John Paulson, to the story. Kouwe's report did not credit Mortgage Implode-O-Meter for first breaking the fact that 1) a private equity group was buying IndyMac 2) Dune Capital was involved.

Wire services picked up the NYT's story and the rest of the business press ended up sourcing Kouwe for breaking the news on the sale of IndyMac to a private equity group.

Shockingly, Kouwe wrote the below, justifying his plagiarism and failures to attribute (my bold, and comments in italics):

I don't know what to tell you. Things move so quickly on the Web that citing who had it first is something that is likely going away, especially in the age of blogs [except of course amongst blogs themselves, which give attribution religiously.] ...

For instance Dealbreaker and other blogs report on a lot of stories, but I don't think anybody has ever cited them as being first with a particular scoop [even if no one else were doing it, would more wrongs make a right?]. I've had it happen to me a bunch of times at The Post and it really didn't bother me because most readers just don't care. They don't read bylines and they don't care about whether one paper cited a website or another paper in their stories [I am a reader and I can attest that I care. The idea of attribution is to provide it for sophisticated readers and other journalists who want, nay, who NEED to see the sourcing].

Please publicize this as much as you can; the mainstream media MUST be held accountable.

Also noteworthy, the NY Times may have lifted material from one of my other sites, IamFacingForeclosure.com, back in 2007, when we were reporting on Judge Boyko in Ohio throwing out foreclosures for failure to produce the note:

http://iamfacingforeclosure.com/blog/2007/11/16/true-sale-false-securitizations/

Back then I assumed the similar (even verbatim, in parts) coverage was just a coincedence. Now I'm not so sure. The "similarities" in the NY Times story led some to comment back then:

"It may be a Casey [Serin, former blogger at IamFacingForeclosure.com] fantasy, but it is true in real life. I Am Facing Foreclosure broke a story that was respected enough and accurate enough to be stolen by the New York Times."

In a final irony, the NY Times has not taken interest in any of our significant free speech "SLAPP" suits (despite my dozens of emails to prior contacts there). While both challenge freedom of the press, in one of them, a New Hampshire Superior Court judge specifically threw out the Pentagon Papers rationale (which conferred to the NYTimes' benefit in the 70's), bringing the whole "let's shirk the blogs" mindset full circle. Who will cry for the NY Times when they are gagged on the next "Pentagon Papers" issue by today's far more authoritarian courts, because they let their blog "competitors" get savaged by the omnipresent enemies of free speech?

(More info on the suits can be found at these URLs:
http://www.citmedialaw.org/blog/2009/...
http://ml-implode.com/viewnews/2008...)

I know that I go out of my way to give credit and attribution in all of my posts. There is absolutely no need to steal stories, ideas and analysis from other blogs or news sources. I know that most other blogs feel similarly. For those that do not share our solidarity, I brand my charts heavily with the BoomBustBlog logo. Now you know why.

More on my thoughts on the mainstream media and its "profitable" interaction with the blogosphere:

 


 

Reggie Middleton

Author: Reggie Middleton

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