Reuters’ Felix Salmon criticized two recent columns from the New York Times for ignoring social media’s impact on the May 1 developing Osama bin Laden story and for not linking outside of the Times‘ articles.
Brisbane’s column did cite New York Times national political correspondent Jeff Zeleny’s 10:41 p.m. tweet, but ignored New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter’s 10:25 p.m. tweet about the news, Salmon noted.. Stelter’s re-posting Keith Urbahn’s 10:24 p.m. tweet including identifying Urbahn is Donald Rumseld’s chief of staff.
“Urbahn, here, gets the goal, but Stelter absolutely gets the assist,” according to Salmon. Salmon went on to claim that “Stelter’s tweets were the single most important thing that the NYT published on Osama” prior to its Monday print edition.
Meanwhile, American Journalism Review has criticized the labeling of Urbahn’s tweet as breaking news. AJR claimed that because Urbahn’s story wasn’t “nailed” down and was just “passing on a rumor,” it wasn’t journalism. Read more on that here.
Likewise, the Los Angeles Times added that Twitter isn’t a news outlet but “a global bulletin board.” The Los Angeles Times called it “frustrating” when Twitter gets “credit for breaking big stories.”
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While the Los Angeles Times didn’t fault Urbahn for his “speculative tweet,” it did question the way the news was passed around.
“If Urbahn had been wrong, the world would have shrugged and moved on. However, if CNN, the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times had tweeted a Bin Laden dead rumor that didn’t pan out, their credibility would have been shattered and they would have been rightly raked over the coals for sloppy journalism.”
Tech Dirt weighed in commenting that “If you read Brisbane’s story alone, you might not realize that many other news organizations had already reported the story before the NY Times did. You might also not realize that it was all over Twitter by the time the NY Times got around to it.”
Reuters’ Salmon criticized Brisbane for not crediting Stelter’s tweeting. He also criticized both Brisbane and Keller for not linking outside of the New York Times. Salmon wrote:
“Just like Brisbane, Keller makes sure that every single link in his column is an internal one, to some other NYT web page — I count 26 different links between the two columns, which implies that in the eyes of the New York Times, the 26 most important online resources to link to when writing those columns are all NYT stories or pages. It’s as arrogant as it is hermetic.”
iMediaEthics has written previously about Guardian science writer Ben Goldacre’s criticism of the Times for linking to “a lot of unhelpful nonsense.” Specifically, in one Times science story Goldacre cited, the Times linked to its own pages defining a wrinkle and a fever.