“Just to clarify, as a mere amateur blogger, I never make direct quotes up or deliberately misattribute them”

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 28 June 2011

Earlier today I tweeted: “Just to clarify, as a mere amateur blogger, I never make direct quotes up or deliberately misattribute them”, and yes, this is one of a gazillion blog posts written today and tomorrow about Johann Hari.

Mine comes from the “Doh! The irony” files though.

About 4 hours after I tweeted that, usability guru Steve Krug left a comment on Monday’s post to point out that I had misattributed the paraphrased quote on his t-shirt to Jared Spool, rather than Jakob Nielsen who originated the phrase. Pride comes before a fall and all that.

Anyway, I did what I always do when I’ve made a mistake on this blog - I corrected it with a visible edit on the page, in accordance with my blogging principles.

It was one of the things I most like about news metadata standards like hNews or rNews, that they ask you to codify your reporting and publishing principles. If The Independent had a page like that, we would instantly know whether Johann had breached their editorial standards.

And what do I think of what he has apparently done?

Well, for sure, it isn’t the worst crime perpetuated in the name of journalism, but ask yourself what you would call it if you passed off, as your own primary research, quotes that someone else had obtained from a subject in an academic paper?

And will The Independent go back and make corrected attributions in the articles?

Keep up to date on my new blog