Can bloggers and reporters just get along?

As a lowly blogger, I’ve of course followed the Bartels-stole-my-story controversy. How could I not, even with the election raging around me?

You recall a ColoradoPols blogger, Half Glass Full, first wrote Sept. 9 about the possibility that the GOP would become a minority party in Colorado, if Dan Maes’ gets less than 10 percent of the vote in November. Great story, and funny.

Then The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels blogged on the same topic Sept. 11, and The Post ran a story Sept. 13.

Half Glass Full then posted a blog, eloquently titled, “Lynn Bartels stole my story.”

The story was advanced by State Bill News, which contained the Associated Press’ and Post’s guidelines for credit and attribution.

State Bill News also quoted Half Glass Full’s blog post,  “Gee, thanks Lynn.”

But neither Glass Half Full, nor State Bill News, checked with Bartels to get her take on the story theft.

She claims today, in a blog post, that she got the story independently and didn’t see it first on Pols. (I know Pols readers may find this incomprehensible.) She didn’t apologize, like I would have, but that’s ok.

To her credit, she invited Glass Half Full (and by extension ALL bloggers) to email her ( if they have questions in the future.

Asked why State Bill News didn’t contact Bartels for its piece, Editor Don Knox wrote:

I felt I got the Post’s (and Lynn’s) side in by citing and linking to their ethics policy, which is silent on attribution except in cases of plagiarism. The Post didn’t attribute because it doesn’t have a policy explicitly requiring attribution. Lynn is following her company’s rules — which are weak.

AP’s policy is much stronger.

Of course, it would have been even better had I called her AND she had responded. But I think the issue of knowledge beforehand is sideshow at this point. As soon as this was brought to Lynn’s attention, she should have amended her reports to reflect the earlier story. Even to this moment, she hasn’t done that. And that’s where the blogger’s point has merit.

I’m hoping this story ushers in a new era, in which bloggers feel comfortable contacting reporters directly, if they find an error in their work OR if they’re own work isn’t properly attributed by a reporter.

And I hope we enter a new era, in which reporters err on the side of giving too much attribution to bloggers (like me!) and not too little. And they do it, as Knox suggests, even after the fact.

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