Online journalism: still getting sources wrong in 2018

October 1, 2018

A radio station tweeted tonight about a story discussing how young kids are avoiding Apple’s “Screen Time” restrictions and spending more time on iPhones/iPads than their parents want them to.

I clicked the link in the tweet. It took me to the radio station’s website where I read the article. At the end of the article, it listed Mashable as its source and linked to that version for more info.

I clicked the link to read the article on Mashable. That article cited its source as The Next Web and linked to their version of the story.

I clicked the link to read the article on The Next Web. That article cited Yahoo as its source and linked to their version of the story.

I clicked the link to read the article on Yahoo. That article’s byline says it was sourced from Business Insider, but it didn’t link to the article on BI’s website.

I went to BusinessInsider.com and looked for the article. It wasn’t on their home page but a quick search located it. Turns out this is where my hunt ended … I’d found the original article.

To sum up, Business Insider published an article that spread across the internet, but a chain of other news sites that re-published their own versions of the story failed to cite the original source and gave credit to the sites that were just re-purposing the story.

Ugh. This happened to us a lot when I was at Search Engine Land/Marketing Land/Martech Today, and it always frustrated me. We did a lot of original reporting and other sites did their own versions of our story. But then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and other levels of coverage didn’t cite us as the source, but instead cited some article that had rewritten ours.

It’s been going on for years like this. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some tool or service that made it easier to locate and credit the original sources of stories? A guy can dream, right? 🙂

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