Here's the background on a story brewing in the Twin Cities as reported on Poynter by Maryn McKenna, a freelancer who has caught my attention with two great posts in a sometimes so-so e-media column:
The question is: Should the Strib have named Kohler as a source in the story?
On Nov. 29 and 30, Twin Cities blogger Ed Kohler posted (here and here) on an emerging story involving Minneapolis-based Target Corp.: Students doing viral marketing for Target on Facebook were asked to conceal their affiliation with the company. Kohler's posts hat-tipped and expanded on posts by University of Georgia senior Rosie Siman, who revealed the concealment on Oct. 8. (In an Oct. 9 update, Siman posted that she'd learned the administrator for the Target Rounders program claims the original request was a "miscommunication.")
A few minutes before midnight on Nov. 30 the Star-Tribune published its version of the story online. They also bannered it across the front page of the Dec. 1 paper. The story quoted Siman, Target and Target's marketing arm. It did not mention Kohler's blog; even though referred to Target being "outed in online blogs."
Reporters often gather a lot of material that never gets used in an actual story but often informs the final story in the way of background. There are even interviews with sources that never see print but that help the reporter to give a story more context for the reader.
However, in this case, it appears that the Strib learned of the story from Kohler, that he did deeper digging on this story when he realized the traditional media had missed it. In that case, he and his blog should have been at least referenced as the original source of the story. Give it the mainstream equivalent of a hat tip.
There's a squabble over whether or not Kohler was the original source of the story or whether he just furthered it along. Either way, I think reporters can't just grab material from bloggers without at least indicating where they found the information. At the very least, talk to the blogger via comments or offline, explain what you're working on and ask to chat further because it's possible and probably likely that the blogger has even more info and sources that he or she has not yet shared. It appears the Strib reporter did that, but then still neglected to attribute Kohler as a source.
Traditional reporters cannot be obtuse about the nature of such relationships. The net result of transparency and cooperative reporting is even stronger coverage of everything from politics to business, education to city hall.
The Minnesota Monitor (a cool site similar to what I'd like to see happen in Cleveland) picks up the argument here.
What do you think?
Should journalists credit bloggers? If so, under what circumstances?
Do you think reporters and bloggers should nurture source relationships?
Have you any experience doing so either as a journalist or a blogger?
Have you any experience working with a reporter or a blogger to improve coverage of certain issues?