ChicagoNow blogger says Tribune journalists ‘stealing’ ideas from blogs without credit

ChicagoNow
Jenna Myers Karvunidis says the Chicago Tribune and its Red Eye commuter paper seem to be “stealing scoops” from her and other amateur bloggers on the Tribune-owned ChicagoNow site. She cites examples where she or other bloggers wrote about unique topics or ideas, only to have similar pieces appear in the professional publications shortly after with no credit to the blogger. “Is this lazy journalism on the part of traditional media, or the ultimate flattery of bloggers? Or both?” she writes. || Related: New Nielsen data shows millions more blogs and blog readers, led by young moms (Nielsen Wire) | Local community blogs are producing news and civic engagement as news orgs shrink (Guardian)

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  • http://twitter.com/HighGlossSauce Jenna Karvunidis

    THANK YOU so much for actually reading my blog! Wow, you have hit every point here better than I could in defending myself. 

  • Anonymous

    One more item:

    I looked at the headline and Mr. Sonderson asserts that Ms. Karvunidis makes the allegations much more definitively than she herself does in her article. 

    Ms. Karvunidis mostly questions and does not accuse.

  • Anonymous

    Ms. KarvunidisThank you for your work and answering the posts.I decided to comment about the juxtaposition forced by Mr. Sonderman in covering your blog. The one between the “amateur”bloggers and the “professional” publications. I see that you already covered it and applaud you for it. I agree it creates an atmosphere of discrediting the bloggers and elevating the “professionals”.Worse, though he doesn’t use quotes for this, Mr. Sonderman, by the structure of the sentence, creates the impression that you yourself invoked the work “amateur”. I suspected that you hadn’t, so I read your piece to confirm. You proved my suspicions correct.I feel you can confidently ignore comments that misrepresent what you have said. And, of course, since you step on “professional” toes, many will dismiss your work based on an alleged misuse of a word, or that you haven’t been trained formally, rather than admitting the integrity of your body of work as a whole. Maybe what this shows is that one DOESN’T need formal training to do good citizen journalism. After all, a journalist is supposed to help people make informed decisions.Please keep up the good work.Mr. Sonderman:Please refrain from injecting these juxtapositions in the future. And if you write that the source said something, you are obligated to use words that the source did and not use ones your source didn’t.I am curious as to what made you feel justified to insert the word “amateur”, especially when:1. The only distinction Ms. Karvunidis makes is between the protections enjoyed by the staff of the Tribune and the independent contractor relationship offered bloggers.2. In her piece Ms. Karvunidis specidically says that critics hold bloggers to the same journalistic standards as the rest of the media network.3. A quick perusal of the description of how the arrangement works yields:”We pay a select number of bloggers an agreed upon monthly rate.”4. And “Several ChicagoNow bloggers have received book deals based on their blogs or because of the attention their blogs brought them.5. All bloggers are eligible for Google adsense income.thx2600:1. Ms. Karvunidis never claimed that no one reported on these issues before. She was struck by the closeness in time and the similarity of discussion.2. Many “amateur” comedians are honored by a famous one stealing their jokes. This happens all the time in most fields. it doesn’t make the stealing any more ethical or the compliment any more diminished.3. By attacking Ms. Karvunidis (“And dear God, please learn the definition of “scoops.” Because scoops aren’t opinion pieces.”) you pointedly illustrate an attitude that is pervasive in Main Stream Media. (I am not saying you are part of MSM; just that you illustrate it well.) a. You assume that all blog pieces are opinion pieces. They are not. Most of the blogs I frequent are more fact-based than the MSM and provide more links than the MSM and the ones they provide are more meaningful than the ones found in the MSM.b. Just because opinion pieces may reflect an opinion, it does not mean that they can not also include facts to back up that opinion or that the facts can’t be something that hasn’t been revealed up to that moment.
    c. Ms.Karvunidis clearly uses “scoop” in two ways in her article, in the headline and in the body:
    “Are traditional news media stealing scoops from bloggers?”
    “Coincidence, or did the Chicago Tribune scoop some inspiration from Chicago Now?”

    I also disagree with ChicagoReporter’s assumption that bloggers rely on the reporting of professional journalists. I think it is quite the opposite. I think bloggers rely on primary sources much more than the “professionals” do. As a humble example, take my comment: I suspected that the “professional” Mr. Sonderman may have created the use of the word “amateur” in the context of this piece. I read Ms. Karvunidis’ original piece and the terms of the blogging relationship with the Tribune and found Mr. Sonderman was way off base. I think the MSM routinely fails in this regard. And they end up creating opinions when they should be pursuing truth.

    Think of how much we heard of Julian Assange’s personality quirks (mismatched socks!) and how little we heard about the content of the documents themselves.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not about being an “amateur,” it’s about appearing ignorant. When you call opinion pieces “scoops,” you appear ignorant. When you believe someone “stole” a story from you because they wrote one on the same topic, you appear ignorant. Knowing what words mean is a basic tenet of writing. 
    The world is changing, yes; the definition of basic journalism terms, no. 
    Essentially what you’ve done is gone off half-cocked, accusing people of stealing your work, when there’s absolutely no evidence of that.
    It’s fine if you weren’t trained in journalism. You don’t have to be. I was, but it’s not a requirement to do journalism. 

    In most instances, it’s great for a writer to get exposure. For you in this particular instance, it’s clearly not because this has been embarrassing to watch.

    Take some time to learn the craft.

  • http://twitter.com/HighGlossSauce Jenna Karvunidis

    No one was writing about the parental backlash of the Nick. Jr. programming besides myself and later, CBS Chicago. 

    Regarding the language – no, I was not traditionally trained in journalism. My background is marketing. There are things that I might miss, such as in this case, a misuse of the word “scoop” perhaps. I see how the Nick. Jr. programming isn’t exclusive to me per se (I mined the topic from comments on Facebook). For that I can only marginally apologize. I am, after all, a blogger.

    There is a fact worth mentioning though. I am not an amateur. The Tribune Media Company pays some of their bloggers, me included. I only mention this because yesterday I was referred to by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “part-time blogger” in a piece they did on men’s rights groups. Using terms like “amateur” and “part-time” might be attempts to discredit bloggers when in fact, we might be giving “real” journalists a run for their money. The world is changing, boys.

  • Anonymous

    And dear God, please learn the definition of “scoops.” Because scoops aren’t opinion pieces.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s get down to brass tacks…

    You write, “I felt very honored and flattered to think I may have helped bring the issue to a bigger place.”

    But your headline asks, “Are traditional news media stealing scoops from bloggers?”

    “Stealing”?

    You can’t be “honored and flattered” by something you believe has been “stolen” from you, can you?

    I think you’ve got too little institutional knowledge about media to understand that the topics of newborn circumcision and gun control have been written about ad nauseam.Before you start accusing people of “stealing” things from you, please have at least a shred of evidence that this has, in fact, occurred.

  • http://twitter.com/HighGlossSauce Jenna Karvunidis

    I respect what you have to say, but I will answer you the reason I wrote about circumcision was because I was nearly at the point in my pregnancy where the gender of the baby is learned. It made me think about what choices I would make if I found out the child would be a boy, so I tossed out both sides of the debate and opened up a relatively highly trafficked discussion. 

    I didn’t say it was unfair. The Tribune can certainly write about any trending topic they want! If anything, I felt very honored and flattered to think I may have helped bring the issue to a bigger place. In NO way do I feel wronged or think the Trib is looking to peons like me for direction, lol. Yeah right!!

  • http://twitter.com/HighGlossSauce Jenna Karvunidis

    I respect what you have to say, but I will answer you the reason I wrote about circumcision was because I was nearly at the point in my pregnancy where the gender of the baby is learned. It made me think about what choices I would make if I found out the child would be a boy, so I tossed out both sides of the debate and opened up a relatively highly trafficked discussion. 

    I didn’t say it was unfair. The Tribune can certainly write about any trending topic they want! If anything, I felt very honored and flattered to think I may have helped bring the issue to a bigger place. In NO way do I feel wronged or think the Trib is looking to peons like me for direction, lol. Yeah right!!

  • http://twitter.com/HighGlossSauce Jenna Karvunidis

    Your headline is misleading. I wrote that post and used the word “inspired” in regards to the Chicago Tribune loosely following trending blog topics. My headline about “stealing” was in reference to CBS Chicago who has featured me in the past and whose post about Nick. Jr. was oddly similar in format and opinion to mine, just a day later. Even then, no one plagiarized me. Stealing an inspiration and stealing actual words are totally different things. 

  • Anonymous

    The whole thing is silly. Really – no one discussed or reported on male circumcision prior to her blog post? Gun control in a city like Chicago? Yeah, that sounds original, too…

  • Anonymous

    Absurd. Here is the evidence this blogger offers as proof the traditional news media is stealing her ideas:
    1) She wrote about the debate over male circumcision in 2010 and two weeks later, so did the Chicago Tribune. Where on earth did they get their idea, she asks? The question is, where did she get hers? Perhaps from the dozens and dozens of stories written well before her 2010 blog on this topic, including a long story that ran in the summer of 2009 in the Chicago Tribune. Stories about this have run in the Tribune for years. In 2010, this debate was still around, but it had been for a long, long time.
    2) She wrote about gun control earlier this year. A few days later, so did Red Eye, a sister Tribune publication. Where, she wonders, did they get their idea? I don’t think anyone needs to point out that traditional news media have been writing about gun control issues for decades, but a search in the Tribune archives for the exact phrase ’gun control’ pulls up no fewer than 45 articles, in 2011 alone. In 2010, a search for that exact phrase pulls up 90 stories in the Tribune and Red Eye.
    3) She cites another blogger who says he/she wrote about manners, Rush Limbaugh and ‘uppity’ and almost the next day a piece in the Tribune popped up with the same topic. Because nobody, just nobody, has been writing about Rush Limbaugh recently.
    Basically, unless you as a blogger do a lot of reporting, you are forming your opinions, about gun control, about male circumcision, about Rush Limbaugh, based on facts dredged up by reporters who likely work for traditional media. If you want to make a case that it is the other way around, good luck.