Blogger Sees Red Over StarTribune’s Lack of Citation

The StarTribune picked up on my Target Rounders posts with an article in the business section by Jackie Crosby:

Bloggers seeing red over Target’s little secret

Target Corp. is learning the hard way that life in the blogosphere can put you right in the bullseye.

The Minneapolis-based discount retailer is being outed in online blogs and discussed in college ethics classes after students allied with the company were told to “keep it like a secret” while singing the company’s praises on the social network site

The article is fairly well researched, with quotes from Target, drillTEAM (the company running the campaign), the girl who raised a ruckus about the request for Target Rounders to keep their Rounder status a secret, and a quote from a marketer at Padilla Speer Beardsley.

What’s missing is a mention of The Deets.

Come on, Jackie. You called me about this on Thursday afternoon. We discussed the story, I pointed you to sources where you could find more info, including the email of one of the sources you quote. You told me you’d mention The Deets in the article.

It’s fun to see the story get some more attention, but it comes across as rude to be snubbed like this. Why should I answer the phone when the next time the StarTribune calls?

What really happened here? The headline of the article, “Bloggers seeing red over Target’s little secret,” doesn’t make any sense when you don’t include bloggers in the article. A more accurate tile would be “Student We Mysteriously Found Out About in Georgia Goes Public about Target Rounders”

You close the story with:

When her teacher, Kaye Sweetser, heard Siman’s story, she posted it on her blog.

And as happens, one blogger told another. And so on, and so on.

And so on, indeed.

Update 12:57 Dec 2: LOL, I didn’t realize it was the top story on the front page of the StarTribune’s print edition. Thanks to Lisa for pointing that out on her blog.

StarTribune Print Front Page

27 thoughts on “Blogger Sees Red Over StarTribune’s Lack of Citation”

  1. That bytes! Loved the story but had no idea that they snubbed you.

    Considering how few people read newspapers in print, you’d think that they would show more respect for the e-community

  2. ahhh! i hate that they didn’t mention you in the story!

    i did just update my blog to include your posts about target rounders (not that the amount of people reading the star tribune are reading my blog, but hey– respect, right?)

    thanks for covering it.

  3. Yeah, I guess it is still pretty new and its not like anyone has figured out how to make it profitable…

  4. I thought the same thing about the headline when I read the article . . . that it didn’t make any sense.

    But why mention a blogger by name? Aren’t all bloggers pretty much the same? Doing the same thing out there in this, um, blogging space area?

    Also, thanks for looking further into the Rounders application, etc. Hysterical! I mean, what a resume builder!

  5. Pingback: RE: Blogger Sees Red Over StarTribune’s Lack of Citation | Garrick Van Buren .com
  6. Considering you were told you’d be mentioned this seems fairly unethical. Let’s hope this becomes StarTribune creating a flap while covering a flap.

  7. Ed: Hey, sorry you felt slighted. True, some of us (me) are still learning about all of this.

    If I’d had one more paragraph I would have shown readers the path it took to come to my attention. (That part got trimmed to “… and so on…”)

    But as it was, I had to cut out comments from the CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, something that also would have been good for readers to know about.

    In the blogosphere, there’s bottomless newshole. Alas, in print, we have limits.

    To be fair, I did credit the original source of the flap: The teacher from the University of Georgia. She put it out there. The bloggers, including you, just linked to her work.

    Thanks a lot for your help. Reporters talk to people all the time who don’t get quoted every time we write stories. (And, I’m quite sure I didn’t promise that you would be quoted.)

    We use sources to help us better understand things we don’t understand. In that way, you were quite helpful. And, I’ll probably be calling you again in the future.

    Think of your role in this as pointing a lost soul in the right direction. Maybe you didn’t get a direct reward, but sometimes doing a good deed comes back to you in other ways.

    You played a hand in getting a story on the front page of the Star Tribune, after all.

    Glad to know about The Deets.

    Best regards,
    Jackie Crosby
    Star Tribune

  8. Jackie, thanks for stopping by. I think the story you wrote is great, and am glad to see it’s getting attention and some nationwide syndication. I noticed it’s on, for example.

    I get the impression that this started out as a smaller story within the business section, but it turned into something larger. Looks like I got cut out somewhere along the way.

    An interesting follow-up article could dig into whether kids care about this or not. Students I know are cynical enough to assume that they’re usually being lied to. They’re likely to exploit programs like this for the schwag rather than follow Target’s marching orders.

    Too bad the WOMMA comments didn’t make it in. It’s a juicy bit that the company Target hired to run the campaign is a member of WOMMA but violated WOMMA’s code of ethics with this campaign.

    I’m not that familiar with how the StarTribune decides who to cite on stories, but on the web, one common practice is to provide a hat tip to the source you picked up the story idea from. For example, I cited Andy Sernovitz as the source of inspiration for my original post, then also quoted and linked to Rosie’s story on this that her teacher wrote about. Andy, in this case, isn’t a primary source, but played a critical role in bringing this story to my attention, and so on . . .

    Maybe what we have here is a disconnect in how story tipsters are acknowledged?

  9. As a newspaper journalist of 20 years, now freelance in print and online, I have to say politely that Jackie is wrong here.
    Ed was not a “tipster”; nor was he one one of those “people all the time who don’t get quoted every time we write stories.” He is someone who has published a prior version of the story.
    The appropriate journalistic behavior, and emerging convention, is that when we write about a story that has been broken elsewhere, we credit the prior source. If the story had been in a smaller local newspaper, or on a local TV station, the Strib would have – or if they had appropriate ethics, should have – credited that outlet. That the story first appeared locally on a blog really makes no difference.
    We do not lose in power or authority when we credit our sources. It is really past time that newspapers started to learn this.

  10. Having read your post and then seeing the Strib Article a day later, I had one of those “whaaa?” moments.

    If they weren’t going to link to a particular blog, why the hell did story title have the word “Bloggers” in it? Kind of defeats the purpose if you’re not going to follow up on the first and most prominent word in the story, even if it’s not this blog. Figure out which blogger broke it and throw them a link.

    The saddest part is this is just one more log on the fire of the strib and newspapers in general not “getting it”. It’s called a hyper-link, dudes, welcome to 1993.

  11. Jackie, you inadvertently put another nail in the coffin of “journalism.” Why should I read a static “news” piece that makes a vague reference to someone but links me to nowhere? Any blogger who referred to something without giving a link to it would be laughed at. Blogs are routinely peppered with links, but you can’t do this. So why am I reading “news” again?

  12. WWDD – What Would DeRusha Do?

    “Why should I answer the phone when the next time the StarTribune calls?”

    To forward them onto the reporter you actually give the story to, next time.

  13. I’m sorry I was out of town this weekend– so I could have stolen the story from The Deets before the newspaper did! I can relate to Jackie’s issues here… but I think the mainstream media needs to develop our own version of the [via] tag used on the web.

    The landscape is confusing. The Strib writes stories/breaks news and that goes out on AP wires. We can use AP without crediting it. TV stations repeat what was in the paper without crediting the source. It’s messy. We’re good at sourcing on stuff we report; but we’re not good at the hat tip.

    If I had handled this story for WCCO, I would have written about the backstory on my blog, explaining where I found out about the story. I probably would have interviewed Ed, because the Target connection is local, as is the blog connection.

    The story has three components to me:
    * Ethics of Target (or its contractor)
    * Blogger who exposed (Rosie)
    * Other bloggers — the Target backfire angle (that’s where The Deets figures in)

  14. Nice of Jackie to stop in and explain. I’ve worked with her before and consider on of the better (remaining) folks at the Strib to work with.

  15. With all respect to Jackie her contention that she “did credit the original source of the flap” is false.

    The original story went up on Rosie Siman’s blog (10/8 and 10/9) and Jackie knows that, since she on 11/29 she commented on the 10/9 post by and asked Siman to contact her.

    Prof. Sweetser did put it “out there” on 10/10 on a slightly bigger soapbox than Siman’s blog. That doesn’t change the facts though and the article should have reflected that.

  16. Another thought:

    I don’t know the editorial inner works of the Strib.

    But isn’t there a natural conflict of interests here?

    The Strib wants to put out the most accurate news story possible.

    At the same time, when that story is about self-publishers (bloggers), aren’t they ceding readership by linking back to the originating source?

  17. I like Jason DeRusha’s comment because it suggests another way the Strib could have handled this, by expanding the online version from the print version. A number of places (including the Atlanta J-C which I recently left) are trying this.

  18. seems a little wonky..ethically.

    I posted the story to sphinn a social bookmarking site centered around search and social marketing.

    I think I linked to her story with a “via”

    hope that was okay?

  19. I have not a clue how the Strib’s editors function, but keep in mind in my limited experience as a journalist and an editor: As a writer I’ve had stories edited beyond where I thought they should have been edited; as an editor, I’ve edited stories from writers who thought the original story had changed too much; as an editor, I’ve written headlines for stories that the original writer was not happy with.

    My point is that it’s unclear what control Jackie has of her story (especially one that is front page) once she submits her article. It is likely the Strib’s editorial staff should bear the brunt of the criticism. I can imagine an editor reading the entire story, writing a catchy headline and eventually editing the story to the point that the headline no longer makes sense.

  20. If it makes you feel better, I have not and will not read the Strib’s article.

    Nor will I seek a newspaper for any real news, for exactly the reasons Jackie has posted above (how the paper has limits, misleading editing and headlines, and no good way to correct these failings in their static world).

    They are the classic example of a dying industry–static, bloated with past largesse, protecting itself against the future, and unable to nimbly flex with the changes in the market. They are GM and US Steel watching the japanese, a horse and carriage watching the cars woosh by, and to make matters even worse, shaking their heads at how we (bloggers) just don’t understand them (newspapers).

  21. Here’s the deal.
    We all have to realize that “old media” sources are COMPETITION for us, NOT somebody we should be helping. Having this gal from the paper call you should have been considered the same as if she had called the crosstown rival (if your area has one) newspaper. They can do their own work. We beat the pants off them most of the time with vastly fewer resources and they can figure out how to do it themselves, or finish dying (as 3927 mentions). Some bloggers still get excited “oh boy, I was mentioned in the newspaper.” Don’t be excited. Your site is as valid as theirs. And if you do good work, the readership will follow.

  22. Geez, guys.

    Speakign as the guy who was Ed’s source … I have to ask … Who cares who gets credit? The whole spirit of the blogosphere is that we work together to tell the story.

    Isn’t the point of this to get Target to clean up their act? Did we forget why we wrote this?

    It’s sort of silly that we’ve got more comments about who gets credit than about the Target scandal itself.




  23. Andy, don’t try that level-headed logic around here. 🙂

    You’re obviously right. Minneapolis is a heavily meta media town, so it’s not particularly surprising to see how much attention this particular post has received.

  24. In the interest of discussion, I would like to address Andy’s reference to ‘focus’–my opinion is that this thread IS the one where our comments belong on instead of the prior Target ones, and here is my reasoning why:
    –we are bloggers, not journalists, not marketing ethicists.

    Therefore, on this blog, this thread is the one for our comments on blogging as it fits both our interest and our knowledge. If inspired, we would (and likely some people did) track down the journalist blogs (like DeRusha’s and McKenna’s) where their comments are long and deep discussing journalistic ethics of source crediting or track down the marketing blogs where they are likely slamming the ethics skating of Target and their hired guns.

    But, I think I’m safe in saying The Deets is a general interest blog, a nightly news show and not a sunday morning talk show. So, I would venture that our focus is intact, chatting up to 20 comments on our interest.

    If someone desires focus on discussing Target or media or marketing or ethics, that is the power of the blogosphere…it must be out there somewhere, just not here in the 3 or so comments those postings earned from The Deets readership.

    My two cents…Cheers. 🙂

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