I was reading Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam’s piece on his time at Newsweek in the 1970s and this passage caught my attention:
For me, Newsweek was like an upside-down journalism school, where I learned an astonishing number of bad habits, e.g., having someone else check your facts. We poached material constantly, from newspapers, from other publications — even from Time. Copying from Time was a fact-checker’s dream, because we knew they took accuracy very seriously over there.
It sounds a lot like the practices of some industry blogs and news aggregators today. So “borrowing” content isn’t a Web-only phenomenon it’s just a lot easier to spot now.
Shifting from poaching content to paying for it, it really is no wonder that the AP seems so threatened by Google. A wire service’s whole business model is built around selling the same content to as many news outlets as possible. That works great in print and broadcast but not so much online. Actually it would work online, if not for search engines giving users access to everything in one place and filtering out duplicate content to improve their experience. What’s a news agency to do?