Anonymous Sources: “Shut Up And Go Away”

It’s been a week since I and my readers noted several instances of the the Minnesota Monitor’s Jeff Fecke publishing quotes of statements uttered during interviews he did not attend, and which would seem, in several cases, to have been taken from Associated Press wire copy.  These quotes were made without attribution.  When questioned, he changed his copy (but still failed to attribute the quotes), made one fairly incriminating statement…:

 Maybe I did interview Ron Carey…and maybe I got the information from wire sources…and maybe there’s another option you haven’t thought of. 

…and then clammed up, refusing to answer any questions about the issue.

The Monitor’s “Code of Ethics” states that “citizen journalists” should:

  * Never misrepresent events in an attempt to oversimplify or take events out of context.

Fecke arguably misrepresented himself, by stating the quotations in such a way as to imply he had access to public figures like Senator Coleman, Governor Pawlenty, MNGOP chair Ron Carey and others.

   * Never plagiarize.

As noted in my series, a number statements appeared as direct quotes under Fecke’s byline that were practically identical to copy that appeared in the Associated Press.  King Banaian noted (with emphasis added):

While Mitch and Michael were discussing the issue of plagiarism at Minnesota Monitor, Michael called to ask whether the use of a quote from a published source met my definition of plagiarism. Pointing to the above definition, what I could say was that if a student here did what Mr. Fecke at MinMon did on a paper turned in to me, I would call it plagiarism. Use of the adverb “reportedly” would not suffice — I would have written in red in the margin, “reported where? Give source.”

Ironically, the “Code of Ethics” also calls upon the “Citizen Journalist” to…

  * Expose unethical practices among each other and wherever they are found to maintain professional standards.

  * Keep the same high standards to which they hold others.

The “Code” then goes on to…:

  * Encourage the public to use the information they have to question and analyze news stories on their own, and voice grievances when they feel stories are wrong. :

…which has certainly occurred, here, although perhaps not in the way the Monitor intended…

…and then, to:

   * Keep an open dialogue with the public in an effort to maintain and improve standards.

The Monitor‘s only response to this issue, off-line, has been an extended series of “no comment” non-responses. 

Which, when you consider that among their “code”‘s most-succinct points is that the “citizen journalist” is to…:

  * Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.

This, the Monitor has not made the most token effort to do. 

What is a defender of intellectual property and justice to do?

7 thoughts on “Anonymous Sources: “Shut Up And Go Away”

  1. Mitch pondered: “What is a defender of intellectual property and justice to do?”

    Why, you thinking of hiring one?

  2. What, you looking for a job, angryclown? This is the height of carnival season. How come you’re not out there juggling your uh, spheres while riding your unicycle, spraying seltzer water at any ‘wingnuts’ within reach?

  3. Angryclown doesn’t do that anymore, Paulie Wingnuts. Angryclown is a consultant now.

  4. Oh! So now you advise other clowns out there juggling their uh, spheres while riding their unicycles, spraying seltzer water at any ‘wingnuts’ within reach.

    Got it!

  5. Well, I’m just aghast that Angryclown has come out in support of bloggers right to fail to attribute (or plagiarize) wire service copy.

    I’ll chalk it up to him not having the faintest idea how wire services work.

  6. Well, I do know how wire services work, and and I know if I’d submitted an unattributed quote, my editor would have asked where I got it, and asked for a link so she could verify it. But this rarely came up, because it’s just standard practice to cite your souces. I can’t think of a situation in which you wouldn’t.

    AP is the great natural fishery of quotes; everyone dips into it, usually because it’s helpful, and because the additional strain of writing “according to AP” does not take its toll over the years in repetitive motion injuries.

  7. Pingback: Shot in the Dark » Blog Archive » Pr0n Industry Temp sez: “Rules Are For Peasants”

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