In this week’s New York Times, David Carr reports on a new committee to formulate standards for content aggregation. The committee, created by Ad Age columnist Simon Dumenco, has the support of some of the major media websites, but few prominent bloggers.
Dumenco decided to form the committee after writing a series of columns in protest over the Huffington Post’s aggregation of one of his articles.
However, the guidelines for aggregation have never really been in question. They are based, in part, on the Associated Press guidelines for covering scoops that have appeared in other periodicals. The reporter’s primary responsibilities are to give credit where credit is due and to refrain from co-opting another reporter’s work.
In a very clever meta example of aggregation, New York’s Joe Coscarelli covers Carr’s story, and in brackets lays out his personal guidelines. Coscarelli includes common practice — identify the original source, link, and don’t over-summarize — then adds a few additional rules — “sloppy metaphor,” “pithy conclusion” and “snark.”
Here are Coscarelli’s guidelines:
- Identify Source, and Potentially Author (Esp. With Columns/Opinion Pieces), Early on
- Briefly Summarize
- Refine Focus
- Disclose, if Necessary
- Opine Generally with Adjectives
- Block Quote (Not to Much)
- Sloppy Metaphor
- Link to Secondary Source
- Link Internally to Relevant Story
- Link Internally to Another Relevant Story
- Link to Tertiary Source
- Return to Original Article in Question
- Pithy Conclusion
- Link to Source Again
It’s rare to see the standard opinion-post template laid out in such a clear and funny fashion. Carr responded to Coscarelli’s post via Twitter: “////A thing of rare (didactic) beauty.”