More Post Attribution Issues?

Last Friday, editors at Knight-Ridder launched a minor kerfuffle by accusing the Washington Post of not properly crediting a story they broke. So you’d think that on that particular day, the Post might have been extra careful about giving credit where credit was due.

Not so much.

A story in Saturday’s paper on mass firings at the Corcoran Gallery of Art failed to credit the influential blog where the news first broke.

The blog, Modern Art Notes, reported the firings early Friday morning–there was no press release or announcement from the Gallery–and throughout the day blogger Tyler Green noticed heavy traffic to his site from the newspaper’s servers. “They were obviously learning about the story from MAN,” Green wrote to us.

Thus, when David Montgomery‘s story came out Saturday, Green was more than a little surprised that he didn’t even receive a passing mention for turning the Post onto the story.

Green fired off an email to ombudsman Deborah Howell asking for published acknowledgement of his role in the story. She promised to look into it, but now three days worth of papers have come and gone with nothing. Montgomery is not one of the paper’s regular arts writers. “I’d expect this kind of behavior from dishonorable websites — not from the Washington Post,” Green wrote.

MAN, for the record, is not a random wacko’s blog: Green is a regular writer for major publications, the New York Times has quoted the site in its reporting, and the Wall Street Journal labeled MAN the nation’s most influential visual-arts blog.

Are these isolated incidents or does the Post have a larger problem about sharing credit where credit is due?

His full email to Howell is after the jump.

Dear Ms. Howell,

I’m writing regarding David Montgomery’s story “Corcoran Slashes Staff and Plots New Course” from Saturday, March 4.

The story, which told of the firing of a number of employees at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, should have credited my website, Modern Art Notes, with breaking the story. The story was posted on MAN ( early Friday morning.

Washington Post employees knew I broke the story on MAN: Throughout Friday I could see unusual levels of traffic coming into MAN from Washington Post servers and from the Washington Post message system.

MAN is not some scatter-shot, reactionary, political blog. The Wall Street Journal recently called MAN “the most influential of all visual-arts blogs,” and Forbes magazine named MAN a “Best of the Web” site. Publications such as Slate, Contemporary, Art & Auction, Black Book, and Art in America have also featured MAN, and the New York Times, to name one example, has quoted it.

Nor is it unusual that a major news story first appears on MAN. Just a couple weeks ago, when the president of America’s third-largest private foundation (the Getty Trust, which is also our largest art-focused foundation) resigned, MAN was first with the news. (

As anyone who regularly reads MAN knows (and I would imagine that one of the writers who contributed to your story is a regular reader), nothing is published on MAN unless it is thoroughly sourced and completely accurate. I can’t remember the last correction I ran. I routinely contribute to news outlets such as the Los Angeles Times. Under the LAT’s code of ethics they could refuse to have me write for them if I went off half-cocked by posting unsourced, inaccurate garbage.

I’m not totally stunned that someone would take my work and present it as their own. About four hours after I posted the story on MAN, a disreputable blog took the information, published it, and set the time of the post to 7:47 am, one minute after my posting of the scoop. I’d expect this kind of behavior from dishonorable websites — not from the Washington Post.

I’m hoping to see a published acknowledgement of the story’s origin in the Washington Post. Please feel free to contact me.


Tyler Green