Still Not Getting It

WaPo's Ian Shapira claims that Gawker's Hamilton Nolan "ripped off" his profile of Gen-Y consultant Anne Loehr because Nolan, well, blogged about it. Conor Friedersdorf makes sense of the mini scandal:

[Shapira's piece] is in fact an awful piece of journalism. As Gawker notes, it exemplifies a kind of newspaper story where “hidebound newspaper editors are too afraid to let their reporters write,” and the closest it comes to a point of view is “a tangled mass of clauses that takes [Anne] Loehr and her consultant pablum at face value.” Reporter Ian Shapira might defend the piece by arguing that it isn’t his job to make a judgment about his subject and her worth as a consultant, only to report the facts about her and let the reader decide. That is the premise behind a lot of newspaper writing.

And in this case, it’s bullshit. A profile is an inherently subjective exercise. It forces the writer to make all sorts of judgments about his or her subject, picking and choosing which scenes to render, which quotes to include, which descriptions to offer, and what to leave out the stuff my former professor Lawrence Weschler would call “the fiction of non-fiction.”

Gawker's Gabriel Synder reveals how many of WaPo's own people, unlike Shapira, have come to rely on blogs to disseminate their work to a larger audience:

But if you're going to fixate on blog links as the death knell of the industry, we have a lead for you: The threat is coming from inside the building. Nearly every day 26 times in July alone a Washington Post staffer not only sends us links to its expensive reporting but even pulls out the most interesting quotes so as to make it easier to pirate. I have strong feelings about revealing the identity of any Gawker tipster, but in this case it seems the public interest is simply too pressing and we must reveal this threat to journalism:

Maria Cereghino
Manager, Communications
Washington Post Media