News sites are always using and reusing one another’s postings. The same is true for both television and print media. ABC quotes the New York Times, CNN sites The Huffington Post and Slate will acknowledge getting its information from places like Nate Silver’s 538.
Sharing new information is a standard form of cooperation between all news outlets. But proper credit must always be given to the one who first got the scoop and did the hard work. Plagiarism is a very big sin in the world of legitimate media.
This is why Silver’s accusations are so serious.
He took to Twitter to say, “Yo, @voxdotcom: Y’all should probably stop stealing people’s charts without proper attribution. You do this all the time, to 538 & others.” And “Only about 20% of the maps @VoxMaps tweets were actually made by Vox. Always a link to a Vox story, rarely to original source.”
Ezra Klein responded with a blogpost on Vox in which the writer recounted how he first started out blogging before there was any social media and explained how hard it was then to drive traffic to his site.
The post categorically denied Silver’s accusations. Klein said in it, “Vox’s approach to aggregation — which Nate Silver criticized today on Twitter— is informed by that. Our policy, to our staff, is simple: any time we use work created by someone else, we need clear attribution to the original author and a link back to the source. When appropriate, we should do more than that: we should add to the conversation with new facts, ideas, or reporting.”
According to Klein, Silver’s anger comes from just one story which did properly attribute information to 538, but in which Vox simply forgot to add a link back to Silver’s website.
“This was carelessness, not malice, but it’s a violation of Vox’s internal standards. Our policy requires attribution, and any time we fail that policy is inexcusable. It’s a betrayal of what makes the web positive-sum. Silver’s right to be upset by it. He has my apologies, ” wrote Klein.