AP to Credit Bloggers

The AP will now start mentioning bloggers whose work they use in their stories. Fat lot of good that will do.

Associated Press Senior Managing Editor Michael Oreskes has issued new guidelines that are being met with approval in the blogosphere:

In the age of the Web, the sourcing and reliability of information has become ever more crucial. So it is more important than ever that we be consistent and transparent in our handling of information that originated elsewhere than our own reporting.

Therefore, here is our policy for crediting other news organizations in our reporting. This policy is aimed at introducing consistency to our practices around the world, and applies to our print, broadcast and online news reports.

The policy addresses two kinds of situations:

— Attributing to other organizations information that we haven’t independently reported.
— Giving credit to another organization that broke a story first, even when we match it — or advance it — through our own reporting.

Attributing facts we haven’t gathered or confirmed on our own:

We should provide attribution whether the other organization is a newspaper, website, broadcaster or blog; whether or not it’s U.S. based; and whether or not it’s an AP member or subscriber.

This policy applies to all reports in all media, from short pieces, such as NewsNows and initial broadcast reports, to longer pieces aimed at print publication.

It applies once we have decided that we need to pick up the material – and for those decisions, the usual judgments still apply.

The attribution doesn’t always have to be at the start of a story or script; it can sometimes be two or three graphs down. But we do need to say where the information came from. If some information comes from another organization and some is ours, we should credit ourselves for what’s ours and the other organization for what’s theirs. (If the material from the other source turns out to be wrong, we’ll cite them in any corrective we do later.)

It’s important to note that we shouldn’t use facts from a non-member news organization, even with credit, so frequently that we appear to be systematically and continuously free riding on that organization’s work.

This is indeed a welcome step.  Essentially, the AP will treat stories broken by blogs in exactly the same way they do stories broken by, say, the Miami Herald.

But, as I pointed out when Doug Mataconis retweeted the story on Twitter, the net effect of this will be negligible.  The coin of the realm for blogs isn’t press mentions but links and the resulting traffic.   My strong guess is that AP stories won’t link blogs, they’ll merely mention them.   Further, many AP members will “rewrite” AP stories under the bylines of their own staff reporters, with either “as reported by the AP” interspersed throughout the copy or, quite frequently, a mere “this story contains wire information” as a footnote.   So, bloggers will frequently not even get the nearly worthless mention that Oreskes is promising.

Of course, blogs, including OTB, have been using AP copy for years.  And AP complains bitterly that we get traffic off the fruits of their labor.   But at least blogs link back to the original source, driving some traffic to AP member sites.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ponce says:

    ” But at least blogs link back to the original source…”
    That’s not entirely true…right-wing blogs tend to link to bigger right-wing blogs that carry a story like Instacracker or Hot Air instead of linking to the original source of a story.

  2. Herb says:

    My strong guess is that AP stories won’t link blogs, they’ll merely mention them.

    My strong guess is that this has less to do with giving blogs credit than giving the AP cover next time they pick up a bogus story based on some hack’s partisan gamesmanship.  (Like the Shirely Sherrod story, say.)