They Never Seem to Learn

On his revitalized web site, Jeff Gannon calls himself “A voice of the new media.” Yet his is only up to his old tricks.

Gannon was always a good argument for a little bit of training before going into the journalism field–more, certainly, than a two-day “institute.’ Maybe he feels it his duty to continue to be a cautionary tale.

When a legitimate news outlet quotes someone, it either gives the source of the quote (along with the venue) or gathers the quote directly (through its own representative, generally the person whose by-line accompanies the story). For reasons both of self-protection and user verification, a clear line is presented between the source of the quote and the news outlet. Even in an opinion piece, where the “rules” are a little looser, the writer is expected to give at least the when and where of the quoted utterance.

Though Gannon’s unprofessional lack of attribution has been frequently pointed out (and Gannon certainly is aware of what Media Matters For America has said about his work–he has even responded), he has not reformed his methods at all.  For example, in an article under his by-line and copyright, dated March 14, 2005 and titled “Bush Scores With Faith-Based Initiative Ruling,” Gannon quotes Jim Towey as though he had been present when Towey spoke.  Certainly, he gives his readers no idea who was present or where he got the quote.

We can be assured Gannon himself was not at the briefing where Towey spoke.  He has become such a high-profile figure that his presence would have been noted. Where, then, did Gannon get his information? He does not tell us. If it was from a wire service, that service should be credited.  If he got it off the web, he should tell his readers what the site was.  But he does not.

Gannon is not reporting, even now, merely recycling the reporting done by others–and doing so without attribution. Anyone can do that; most of us would feel ashamed, though, if we did and called it “reporting.”

Were I a working journalist, I would be outraged at Gannon and the many others now doing the same sort of thing. They are demeaning the profession.

Do I hear anything from the journalist community?

Just loud silence.

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