Lovely Salon.com piece by Glenn Greenwald, prompted by the ruckus over Maureen Dowd’s lifting of a para from a well-known blog.
Typically, the uncredited use of online commentary doesn’t rise to the level of blatant copying — plagiarism — that Maureen Dowd engaged in. It’s often not even an ethical breach at all. Instead, traditional media outlets simply take stories, ideas and research they find online and pass it off as their own. In other words — to use their phraseology — they act parasitically on blogs by taking content and exploiting it for their benefit.
Since I read many blogs, I notice this happening quite frequently — ideas and stories that begin on blogs end up being featured by establishment media outlets with no credit. Here’s just one recent and relatively benign example of how it often works: at the end of March, I wrote a post that ended up being featured in many places concerning the unique political courage displayed by Jim Webb in taking on the issue of criminal justice reform and the destruction wreaked by our drug laws. The following week, I was traveling and picked up a copy of The Economist in an aiport, which featured an article hailing Jim Webb’s political courage in taking on the issue of criminal justice reform and the destruction wreaked by our drug laws.
Several of the passages from the Economist article were quite familar to me, since they seemed extremely similar to what I had written — without attribution or credit…