Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Where Did I First Read This: "Evangelical Lobbyist Eric Miller: The Most Powerful Man in the Indiana Statehouse"

If you haven't read this week's Nuvo, you won't want to miss this week's feature story by News Editor Laura McPhee about the most powerful man in the Indiana State House, Eric Miller. I couldn't have written it better myself. Or did I already write this story in various posts to this blog over the past two years? As Taking Down Words writes:

NUVO's Laura McPhee digs into Evangelicrite lobbyist Eric Miller's antics at the Statehouse for a lengthy story in this week's edition. She borrows liberally from Gary Welsh's wealth of Miller-related reporting over at Advance Indiana, but she and NUVO still get credit for bringing Indiana's most prominent and influential wingnut into the mainstream.

I too give credit to Nuvo and McPhee for helping to bring the extent of Miller's influence and the methods to his madness into the mainstream, but I still believe Nuvo and McPhee owe this blog the professional duty and courtesy of attributing the material I spent many hours researching, compiling, composing and publishing on this blog, which McPhee borrowed heavily upon to write this story. Other bloggers have had similar complaints about mainstream reporters lifting their material wholesale without any attribution. As Larissa Alexandrovna of the Huffington Post recently complained, "There are many things that bother me about plagiarism, but nothing irks me more than when a mainstream reporter (or organization) with all of the resources of a small nation at their disposal lifts from the small press, freelance journalists, and bloggers. She recounted this response she got from the AP when a complaint was lodged that an AP reporter had borrowed from blog reports without any attribution:

In response, several GLBT groups contacted us and issued a statement. We gave the advocacy groups our notes and article, which they then took to the AP and demanded that the story be covered. The AP was given our article and maybe our notes.

On March 14, 2006, the AP did their own article, left out any attribution to me or my publication and lifted not only my research but also whole sections of my article for their own (making cosmetic changes of course).

We contacted an AP senior editor and ombudsman both and both admitted to having had the article passed on to them, and both stated that they viewed us as a blog and because we were a blog, they did not need to credit us. What we are or are not is frankly irrelevant. What is relevant is that by using a term like blog to somehow excuse plagiarism, the mainstream press continues to lower the bar for acceptable behavior. It need not matter where the AP got the information, research, and actual wording from. What matters is that if they use it in part or in whole, they must attribute properly. A blog or a small press publication or grads students working in the corner of a library all equally deserve credit for their work, period.

Unfortunately this is far too common and has happened to me and to other writers and bloggers far too frequently. This time, however, we made a point of tape recording the AP apparatchiks admitting to taking our work and using it without attribution, stating "we do not credit blogs". While they will not credit us in any way; they will instead credit advocacy groups, as though that somehow excuses them from having to attribute rightfully. This is what their first article on the documents' said: "Lesbian and gay advocacy groups recently found the change in an 18-page document distributed by National security adviser Stephen Hadley on Dec. 29, without public notice." Yes, the groups had found it
in my article, which they gave to the AP.

As you can imagine, I share Alexandrovna's exact sentiments on this point. I am truly grateful to Nuvo and McPhee for bringing public attention to the issues I have raised on numerous occasions about Miller's influence and the chilling similarity of his influence to the kind of influence D.C. Stephenson and the KKK exerted over the Indiana General Assembly during the 1920s. I just hope McPhee and Nuvo do the right thing and appropriately acknowledge the work my blog played in their feature story.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Romenesko (Poynter Online) needs to hear what the AP said....

Might make his daily media postings!

Anonymous said...

About 10 paragraphs into her piece and I read about Senator John Waxman, bigot extraordinaire. Excepte everything she's writing about concerns Senator John WATERMAN.

- Lynn

Anonymous said...

I've read your blog religiously from the very beginning. To say McPhee sampled from your blog would be an understatement. What is it they say, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." I still loved her story and wish more reporters would write about Miller's unhealthy influence on this state.

Bil Browning said...

It's kinda funny - when I originally read her piece, I thought Gary had collaborated with her on the article. More than once, I thought "This is just like reading Gary's stories." I even put in my clip on the article, "Now THIS is investigative journalism" thinking she'd done her investigating based on AI - and then had followed up on a couple things for clarification. Wow, if I hadn't been sick and trying to get it out (and get back in bed) I probably would have caught that the only link goes to Indiana Equality (where she got the poll data).

Did you see that Stallio's Way and Commonplace Book also take McPhee to the woodshed for you?

Advance Indiana said...

Yes, I just noticed that this morning Bil. I appreciate them backing me up on this one.