Thursday, December 03, 2009

Murdoch : It's Not Thievery When We Do It

By Darryl Mason

One year on, the man who sold his Australian citizenship to start Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, is still ranting like a senile old goat about digital "thieves" helping themselves to his "expensive" news content.

"Good journalism is an expensive commodity," he announced, while delivering a speech at a journalism conference in the United States.

According to Murdoch, there is "no such thing as a free news story."

"Producing journalism is expensive."

Occasionally, that is the case.

But more often than not what you get is rewrites of press releases, or simply the rehashing of stories published in non-Murdoch media.

Like this 'story', from the AAP, part owned by Murdoch, which today appeared on nearly every Murdoch news site in the country :
Ousted federal Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull and his former deputy Julie Bishop reportedly have fallen out over this week's tumultuous ructions inside the party.

Mr Turnbull was deposed by Tony Abbott in a leadership ballot on Tuesday, but Ms Bishop remains the parliamentary party's deputy to a third leader in less than two years.

Shortly after the ballot, there were suggestions Ms Bishop had voted for Mr Abbott.

That led to a blazing telephone row between Mr Turnbull and Ms Bishop on Tuesday afternoon, ABC Online has reported.

This AAP story is barely a rewrite of this exclusive by the ABC's chief political writer, Annnabel Crabb. All the key quotes and new information from Crabb's story is reproduced in the AAP story, and unlike most of the bloggers and aggregators that Murdoch and his executives have accused of thievery, neither AAP, nor any of the Murdoch media sites that ran the story, provide a link back to Crabb's exclusive.

Bloggers and aggregators play far more fair than the Old Media do, when it comes to reproducing or reusing news and information and quotes that have originally appeared in other news media. We provide direct links to sources, where possible, and more often than not acknowledge where non-original content has been reproduced from.

This is exactly why so many digital journalists and bloggers laugh so long and hard when Murdoch and his executives start ranting about online "parasites, content kleptomaniacs, vampires, tech tapeworms, thieves".

Lifting, rewriting, reproducing, the best stories from your competition is a 'news gathering' technique as old as newspapers themselves. It's usually the first kind of work assigned to cadet journalists. Scan the competition's newspapers, magazines, and reproduce the best of it. If there's time, expand on it a bit.

What many bloggers do, and what Digital Rupert rails so helplessly against, is downright traditional media practice.

And as the AAP reproduction of Annnabel Crabb's exclusive proves, it's still as popular as ever.