"...and he'll talk about all of us really being salesmen." -- Albert Brooks, "Broadcast News"
Steve Rhodes of the indispensable "Beachwood Reporter" confirms your worst fears here:
NBC ABCs"NBC's local Web site is earning a reputation for publishing all the news that's fit to lift," Michael Miner writes.
It wasn't that way when NBC first embarked on a new Web strategy that I thought was smart and had potential. But when the site relaunched under a new managing editor with no foundation in journalism and a cleavage obsession, things changed.
Suddenly us writers weren't supposed to attribute the news we were writing about to its source, we were to pretend we came up with it by ourselves. Right from our little apartments.
"We don't quote publications, we only quote people," I was told by another new editor.
That meant not quoting from publications, either. They would just take the quote marks off. "That's plagiarism!" I railed. To dumbfoundedness. So I worked around it my own way, writing my posts in a way that would mostly prevent mischief, even as I was told that the strategy was to take other people's stories and "make them our own!"
I hope I didn't do this. My strategy was to find angles and commentary on what was in the news and give due credit. At the same time, I warned the bosses: You can't do that. That is stealing, just what aggregators are so often wrongly accused of doing.
To no avail.
I also warned that rewriting other people's stories in which the words were chosen with at least some measure of care would inevitably lead to errors as facts, nuances and context got muddied. Indeed, the site was - and is - littered with errors and mischaracterizations. I have a long list of them just from my time there alone.
Most important, though, is that the absence of any sort of basic journalist framework extends to the top - to the president of NBC Universal's local news division, who is a sales guy.
"I started as a salesman, Mr. Beale..."
Ned Beatty, "Network"
As long these people rule this country -- run our media, our markets, our banks, our government, our businesses, our churches and our charities -- we are all screwed.