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Twitter Attribution

Posted on 2 July 2011

In yesterday’s edition of the Prince George Free Press the opinions page had a section called “Tweets in P.G.” (I’d link but there doesn’t appear to be a digital version). They reprinted some of their favourite Tweets on a variety of subjects affecting Prince George. It’s a fun idea, and one I’d actually like to see more of.

But I find it interesting that the paper chose not to attribute any of the Tweets. As in, they have a bullet-point list of a dozen or so Tweets, but not a single username. So we have no idea who said what.

I find this a bit odd. When people are quoted in articles, write letters to the editor or appear in the “man on the street” segments, the quotes are attributed. So why not Tweets, where all you have to do is copy-and-paste the username? These people said these things in a public forum (albeit a virtual one), and it would seem to me under normal newspaper guidelines it would be reasonable to attribute these quotes.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Free Press did this in any malicious or mean-spirited way. It’s not as if they’re stealing intellectual property and users are being denied payment. And the fact they’re taking Tweets to print is indication they’re embracing the role the internet can play in enhancing traditional media. They’ve been getting active online, frequently re-tweeting other media outlets and individual users alike. But when they do that, we see who they’re quoting. Hopefully in future editions they’ll do the same thing in print.

See also: “If It’s On the Internet, Does That Make It Quotable?” by Caroline McCarthy


Filed under: journalism, media, Prince George, social media

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