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April 23, 2012

A column by Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton, which suggested the structure of the paper failed a blogger accused of plagiarism, was roundly criticized by a top executive Monday. 

Katharine Zaleski, the Post’s executive director of digital news, told me today that Pexton’s description of an online operation focused on churning out content is inaccurate.

“We have incredibly high standards to the point where this idea [of Pexton’s] that we’re pumping things out is ridiculous when you compare us to some of the other news organizations that have people publish immediately [without editing],” she said.

Zaleski said BlogPost has copy editors that read over posts prior to publication, and work with writers. (She would not speak about Flock, citing Post policy to not comment on personnel matters.)

The blogger in question, Elizabeth Flock, left the paper last week after an article of hers was singled out by in an editor’s note for a “significant ethical lapse.” While some saw Pexton’s column as shining light on the pressure aggregators face (we offered a brief take here), others felt that Pexton was being sympathetic to someone who plagiarized. Zaleski also took issue with Pexton’s presentation of the issue as one of neglected younger employees, whose grievances he cited anonymously: “I have no idea what he’s talking about. I don’t know who he’s talking about. I’m young, so what does that mean?”

(Disclosure: I work for the Washington Post Company, but not at the Post proper. — Ernie @ SFB)

16:25 // 1 year ago
April 22, 2012
They said that they felt as if they were out there alone in digital land, under high pressure to get Web hits, with no training, little guidance or mentoring and sparse editing. Guidelines for aggregating stories are almost nonexistent, they said. And they believe that, even if they do a good job, there is no path forward. Will they one day graduate to a beat, covering a crime scene, a city council or a school board? They didn’t know. So some left; others are thinking of quitting.
The Post fails a young blogger (via frontofbook)

With some disclosure (I work for the Washington Post Company, but not at the Post proper) I’ll say that this whole situation is a real heartbreaker. My hope is that the Post can figure out a way to balance the need for fast-paced aggregation with its high journalistic standards. Worth reading is Ombudsman Patrick Pexton’s previous article on the subject. (He wrote this piece, too.) I don’t agree with every point he makes here, but I think that he’s pointed out an important issue — how high pressure, as is common with blogging trending news stories, puts bloggers at a disadvantage. — Ernie @ SFB

(via markcoatney)

10:25 // 1 year ago