FishbowlDC editor Betsy Rothstein called out the Washington Post on Monday with a blog post that accused the paper of taking two stories from other outlets without attribution — Politico’s story about Keith Olbermann’s campaign contributions and FishbowlDC’s scoop about the ouster of TBD.com editor Jim Brady.
WaPo reporter David Montgomery’s article on the Olbermann suspension gave credit to Politico, but other Washington Post stories about the situation did not mention Politico’s role in the story at all.
Rothstein contacted the Washington Post about its coverage about the situation at TBD. She received a response from media reporter Paul Farhi who apologized and blamed his editor for removing references to FishbowlDC breaking the story of Brady’s departure.
“I saw the news on Fishbowl and wrote in my story that Fishbowl had broken the story (because I assumed you had). The credit, however, was removed at the desk; my editor wasn’t sure that you HAD broken the news, and I couldn’t really say I knew for sure. Since there was no time on deadline to investigate the matter, we decided to take the mention of Fishbowl out. Sorry,” Farhi said.
Though he apologized for the incident, Farhi also told Rothstein that he thinks crediting the original source of a scoop isn’t “a requirement or even important” because “all news originates from somewhere” and “unless one is taking someone else’s work without attribution (that is, plagiarizing it) any news story should stand on its own and speaks for itself as an original piece of work.”
Rothstein’s answered Farhi in her FishbowlDC post about the incident.
“Farhi is a media reporter. He and his editors had an obligation to say where the story originated whether it was the NYT, the GW Hatchet, or SodaHead.com,” Rothstein wrote.
There are two lessons here. Firstly, reporters should always credit the original source on a story. Finally, don’t mess with Betsy Rothstein or you’ll almost certainly find yourself staring down the wrong end of a strongly worded blog post.