Steal a story, stick it behing a paywall. Makes sense to me.

On Friday, I broke a tasty story about a woman suing Google, claiming bad directions caused her to get hit by a vehicle. Today, I discover our story is everywhere, often with no attribution. Come along and watch how the mainstream media, which often claims bloggers rip it off, does a little stealing of its own.

Woman Follows Google Maps ???Walking??? Directions, Gets Hit, Sues was the story I posted on Friday afternoon, Pacific Time. I was tipped to the lawsuit by Gary Price of ResourceShelf. Gary hadn???t written about it himself but thought Search Engine Land would be interested in it. He came across it through the regular monitoring of search-related news that he does across a variety of resources (Gary watches many, many things ??? he???s a research guru extraordinaire). Gary downloaded a copy of the suit via the PACER Service and sent it to me.

No one had written about the case before I put my article up. I know. I checked before publishing. There was nothing out there. So what happened next?

Reading the whole thing is worth it if you want to see the the sausage-making that passes for journalism nowadays.

This is one of the many, many things that drives me nuts about the whole newspaper “paywall” debate. Everyone knows that newsrooms are getting gutted, so where the hell do the stories come from? It’s not like there are armies of reporters pounding the street anymore. Those reporters who are lucky enough to have jobs, bless ’em, probably spend a goodly amount of their time researching stories on the net, most likely using Google. And then they write stories that their bosses want to stick behind a paywall.

Any reporting that’s the result of anything other than an eyewitness account by the reported is derivative of other people’s labor. It should always be credited. I think the author of this piece goes a bit far when he criticizes the Utah paper for not crediting him for being the source of the tip that led to their own original research, but that’s a quibble (are we sure he really was?).

What drives me nuts is this attitude among newspaper execs that the derivative works they’re publishing are somehow more magically delicious than anyone else’s.