A month ago I was contacted by Maariv, Israel’s second leading daily newspaper, in regards to a post I wrote the previous month. Feel free to pause here and refresh your memory by reading that post again. Basically, I was complaining about the paper’s international gossip guy who was reading material on PerezHilton.com, translating it to Hebrew, and passing it as his own without giving proper credit. As an avid Perez reader, the matter bothered me enough to conduct a four day inquiry which proved two thirds of all the items can be traced to the online gossip site.
The Maariv employee who contacted me wished to converse without attribution. Apparently he read my post and wanted to discuss the issues I raised. We carried a fifteen minutes long phone conversation about journalism, ethics and blogging, which was surprisingly pleasant and intelligent. I conveyed my notion of ‘giving credit where credit is due’, he talked about legal issues and made a distinction between exclusive and non-exclusive items. Overall I felt there was room for dialogue, and so I suggested ending each item with an acronym that will indicate the source, e.g. [ph] for a Perez Hilton item, [td] for a Tyler Durden item and so forth. I also suggested he put his arguments into writing so that I would publish them on his behalf at the end of the original post, but he politely declined.
We ended the conversation with my insinuating I’ll keep an open eye for any changes, and this is exactly what I did:
Little by little evidence piled to suggest people at Maariv took my critique seriously and the amount of credited blurbs was on the increase. The phrasing started to change from “Julia Roberts was seen…” to “Blogger Perez Hilton reports that Julia Roberts…”, and non-exclusive items sported phrases such as “American tabloids report” et cetera.
All and all, and to my genuine surprise, it seemed my little insignificant rant about credit giving had made a difference on Carlebach street, and while not to the extend that I suggested, someone did instruct the gossip guy to dispense credits more freely and to change the general tone of the segment.
Following are some visual aids from the previous weeks. The green boxes indicate the items that directly credited Perez Hilton, but to truly appreciate the change of tone you must be able to read Hebrew:
Got a short email from Perez Hilton today (May 22, 2008) in regards to this post: