julian Sanchez to Jim Rutenberg and Serge Kovaleski of the New York Times: "Have You No Decency, Sirs? Have You No Decency?"
The New York Times on Ron Paul’s Newsletters: With Ron Paul’s now-infamous newsletters once again making headlines, I… decided that there wasn’t much to add to the long piece Dave Weigel and I wrote for Reason back in 2008…. Apparently, The New York Times agreed. On Monday, they ran a piece that amounts to a couple paragraphs of “fresh tops” aimed at trying to make the piece current, followed by a very light, very lazy rewrite of our article. It cites exactly the same essays and materials we did, takes for granted the identity of Paul’s chief ghostwriter and newsletter editor (which our article spent a fair amount of space publicly establishing for the first time), and even interviews exactly the same sources on the same subjects. (I’ll buy that any reporter would have phoned Ed Crane up; I’ll eat my left shoe if the authors had the first idea who Carol Moore or Mike Holmes were before they read our piece.)
Please don’t take my word for it, though: Compare for yourself. This isn’t a “follow-up” story. It’s a sloppy paraphrase…. [T]hey could use our material without citing the original source. Or very nearly: A few sentences from the very end, they acknowledge one tidbit was “first reported in Reason,” which is a rather brazen implicit deception, given that the same is true of almost everything else in the article. The sad thing is, if they’d been willing to open with a candid reference and link, they could’ve saved the time spent revisiting ground we covered and actually contributed something to the story.
Unlike Dave Weigel, I’m no longer a journalist, so I actually don’t care about being credited for long-ago reporting on a topic I had no intention of ever returning to. What I do care about is de facto deception of the audience by lazy journalists eager to pass off their regurgitation as reporting—which seems to be rather a habit at the Times. I imagine they get away with it because their scribes are normally lifting from people who aspire to work there one day—but since, again, I’m no longer a journalist, I don’t feel any particular qualms about pointing it out….
When it’s an isolated factoid or a quote, I say lift and godspeed. When you’re doing little more than recapitulating an earlier article wholesale, however, and when it is actually directly relevant to the story that this topic has been exhaustively investigated and discussed within the very movement you’re writing about… well, in those cases, if you don’t have any professional scruples, at least have a little fucking shame.