Marco Arment names and shames tech media rewriting his post without attribution

Newspapers have been rewriting the stories of competitors for decades. In the age of the Internet, however, it's sometimes possible to trace the origin & spread of a news story and its spread. Today, Instapaper founder Marco Arment wrote about issues with apps in the Apple App Store. And then...

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  1. On July 4th, Arment explained that the reason that iOS apps were crashing was because of corrupted updates that Apple's App Store was sending out corrupted updates -- not that his code for the latest version of Instapaper was bad.
  2. Arment listed 73 different applications that he believed to be expected and asked people to send him more.

    And then the tech media woke up to it and started covering the stories. Arment, who effectively broke the news story (another reminder you don't have be a credentialed journalist to commit an act of journalism with a blog!) noticed that there were some issues of attribution and proceeded to name and shame the publications on his personal Twitter account.
  3. Sure looks like they updated that:
  4. The worst offenders, if you parse his tweets? 9to5 Mac, BGR, the Register, App Advice, with special attention to The Next Web. (TechMeme now has Arment's post as the source.)
  5. Arment earned some advice from MG Siegler, who has had some experience with having his scoops lifting during his tenure at TechCrunch:
  6. A Montweazel!

    For those unfamiliar with literary history, Sigler described a new media application of the longstanding practice of including a fictitious entry, also known as a fake entry, Mountweazel, ghost word or nihil article in a reference work.

    To cite Wikipedia: "The neologism Mountweazel was coined by the magazine, The New Yorker, based on a fictitious entry for Lillian Virginia Mountweazel in the 1975 edition of the New Columbia Encyclopedia."
  7. Ironically, Arment had blogged about (and linked to) a post by Mattew Panzarino pleading with tech media to "stop not linking" only two days ago.
  8. Here's what Arment had to say about the issue then:


    "…But the bigger problem is the practice of news sites rewriting articles from source sites while adding little to no original value. In those cases, where they put the source link doesn’t matter, because as I wrote a few months ago, they replace the
    need
    to view the source article.


    The most ethically and professionally sound practice when you have little value to add to the source story is the linked-list approach. Give a teaser quote and a prominent link. Make it clear that you didn’t write the target article, there’s more to be read there, and here’s how to get to it.


    Don’t replace it. Send your readers there.


    If you’re truly providing value, you should have the confidence to send your audience away, knowing that they’ll come back to you. If that’s not the case, don’t bother publishing."

    Good advice.

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