Monday, March 13, 2006

How to scoop and be scooped

Earlier this month Milwaukee blogger Jim McAdams, was called by New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro who was "pretty irate."

"Do you get your jollies out of this?" McAdams recalls Barbaro asking.

What McAdams did was to scoop Barbaro on his story about how Wal-Mart was sending tips and information to sympathetic bloggers as a way of getting its message out. Barbaro, who maintains he was not irate, says he was "disappointed" that McAdams and other bloggers would "post what it is I was reporting on" after he sent them e-mails seeking comment -- with a request that the e-mails not be publicized. The online chatter enabled the Wall Street Journal to publish a short piece the same day as the Times.

McAdams, who teaches political science at Marquette University, says he had no obligation to keep confidential the fact that a reporter had sent him an e-mail. "You're talking about a bunch of conservative, pro-business bloggers who are sympathetic to Wal-Mart," he says. "This isn't really news. Wal-Mart is simply doing with bloggers what flacks have been doing with broadcast and print media for decades." In his posting, McAdams listed all the e-mails he had gotten from Wal-Mart's PR firm, Edelman, saying he used some and ignored others.

Newspapers have to build relationships too. Some of those relationships will be via print, Some will be in Google News, in another guise it may use other outlets of the many I identify here and monetisation of news will have different shape in the future – but it will be part of a conversation.


Picture: "Scoop" From Joe Giorgianni's collection.