"Huffington Post"

Dear Everyone,

Stop citing cards as being from the Huffington Post. The Huffington Post just compiles blogs. These blogs can be from Highly qualified people who are smart and know a lot about politics, or they can be from celebrities. There are no Huffington Post staff writers in the sense that the Washington Post has staff writers, so it is totally unacceptable to cite an article as Huffington Post.

14 thoughts on “"Huffington Post"

  1. Bill Batterman Post author

    Amen — this has been a pet peeve of mine all year. This is the same problem that occurred when people were citing "Africa News" on the Africa topic… "Africa News" is a compilation of African newspapers, not a publisher of original articles. So if the article is actually from The Nation–the Kenyan daily–then you need to cite The Nation, not Africa News. The same is true for the Huffington Post–cite the author and their qualifications, not just the forum that their work was published. This matters a lot — just looking at the front page of the Huffington Post this morning, there are feature articles written by people as diverse as Earl Blumenauer (a member of Congress) and Madonna. Neither of those authors should be ethically cited as "The Huffington Post 2009".

  2. Scott Phillips

    Bill- One thing that is important though is to check things like Africa News/BBC/Frontrunner/Hotline etc. on lexis because a lot of times they modify the articles before they republish them (either omitting large portions or using ellipses to string different parts together), so if you change the cite from BBC to whatever other paper and someone looks it up- it could be different text. I know this created at least 1 awkward debate I was involved in with an ethics challenge.

  3. Bill Batterman Post author

    @Scott Phillips

    Makes sense. I would cite an article like that as "The Nation (Kenya), republished by Africa News, 2009" to avoid confusion. I guess I would even be okay with "Africa News, republished from The Nation (Kenya), 2009". But citing only "Africa News, 2009" (or BBC or Hotline or whatever) deprives the reader (opponent/judge) of important context. An op-ed in the Zimbabwe newspaper extolling the virtues of something Mugabe did is a lot less credible than an op-ed on the same subject from a BBC reporter, for example.

    Bottom line lesson is that we need to accurately cite the evidence that we cut, not take shortcuts that eliminate important context.

  4. Michael Antonucci

    There are reporters for the Huffington Post. Sam Stein is an example. While it is best to use the byline, there are, indeed, HuffPo reporters in (about) the same sense that there are WashPo reporters.

    You're welcome to debate the normative component of this how you choose – just sticking up for the much-abused "facts."

  5. Scott Phillips

    Nooch,

    As I was responding you already edited your post. Obviously the huffington post has people who they pay by the hour instead of per article who could be considered staff writers. They do not however publish unattributed articles that people should cite by publication name as per the debate tradition of citing staff writers. I suspect you knew exactly what I meant, as anyone with a minimal amount of reading comprehension would see I did not say "there are no huffington post reporters" and are just being contrarian for the sake of it.

    Although for the record people like Stein are more bloggers in the vein of an Andrew Sullivan than reporters as far as I'm concerned, though I have no interest in debating T blogger with you.

  6. Michael Antonucci

    Er, I'm sorry – I'm not being contrarian. You said "it is totally unacceptable to cite an article as Huffington Post." As the Huffington Post has paid staff writers, and does not, in fact, "just compile blogs," it seems acceptable to cite the authority of the paper when their staff articles are published.

    If your larger argument is that citing the paper is somehow unethical when a byline is available, then you are welcome to that position. Many would disagree, but facts would dictate against confining your strong position to the Huffington Post.

    Blogs are supposed to invite factual correction, so I don't understand the rage, but you're welcome to it. The Washington Post has been notified of your defense of traditional journalism, and they appreciate it.

  7. Scott Phillips

    There was no rage, clearly. You made a wrong point and sort of corrected it with your edit. the Huffington post does not publish unattributed staff writer articles as major newspapers do. Every article has an author- and to take an Alec Baldwin article and cite it as the HP to try and pass it off as a staff writer is intellectually dishonest. It is not a "paper".

  8. Michael Antonucci

    That's true for Alec Baldwin. It's not really true for Sam Stein. I mention this because I cut a Sam Stein card cited (by Alternet, so grain of salt) as "Huffington Post News Team" after you posted this.

    While both may be "intellectually dishonest" (doesn't this seem a little strong here?), there's clearly a distinction between third-party opinion pieces and news reporting from paid HuffPo staff writers. You're certainly entitled to your opinion on whether this distinction makes a difference.

  9. Bill Batterman Post author

    Learn something every day, I guess — if you go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-news/reporting/… you can see the Huffington Post's original reporting. I subscribe to their RSS feed and apparently these articles aren't included (at least in the main feed) and I admit that I did not know that they existed. There are four reporters — Ryan Grim, Jason Linkins, Sam Stein, and Arthur Delaney. I think it is obviously acceptable to cite these news articles as "Huffington Post, 2009" but I would suggest that debaters include "Byline Sam Stein" or whatever somewhere in the citation just so that it is communicated to others that this is a news article and not a column/blog.

    What Scott is talking about (and what I was commenting about) is when an article by Madonna is cited as "Huffington Post, 2009". That's clearly illegitimate, but it is something that people have been doing (maybe not Madonna, but certainly partisan political commentators).

  10. Brad Hall

    I agree that most HuffPo articles should be attributed to the original source (otherwise it's like attributing a card to Google News), but disagree that it's illegit to cite their staff written articles as from the HuffPo. Sam Stein and their other staff writers are as legitimate as staff writers at the NYT, WaPo, WSJ, USAT, etc. Obama even called on Sam Stein at his first press conference as President. And more traditional publications like the Times a) always include staff writer's names, so I guess The 3NR wants those names to be included, too; b) they also reprint wire articles from the AP and other sources.

  11. Brad Hall

    Oh and one more thing: this isn't a new problem. As Bill writes, it happened on the Africa topic. How many teams still read an accidents impact from PR Newswire when it's actually a press release from a medical center? One college team used to read a Balkans impact card from a letter to the editor in the Chicago Daily Herald despite being called on it several times. The Internet certainly magnifies this problem, but it isn't a new one.

  12. Michael Antonucci

    Fair enough, Bill – citing an editorial as the paper is incorrect, of course. I agree with Brad's post too.

    Sam Stein is a pretty nice guy.

    All the smartest bloggers issue corrections all the time. Nate Silver springs to mind. That's how dialectic works.

  13. Brad Hall

    Well, citing an editorial is correct if it is written by the newspaper's editorial board, but not if it is written by an op-ed columnist or contributor.

  14. Paul Strait

    If your only qualification is that your blog is included in the Huffington Post, it seems unnecessary to include a byline for the same reason that you shouldn't include the byline for washington post staff writers. I don't know if this is the case for any of their blogs, but I do think it is irritating when a staff writer is cited as the author b/c it seems to falsely imply that the author has special qualifications or that their identity is relevant (especially since, after all, it is very rare for debaters to read qualifications as a part of the citation these days).

    Hearing "Huffington Post 2009" provides slightly more information than "Random irrelevant blogger in 2009" especially in a world where qualifications aren't read. Obviously qualified authors are a different story.

    As a separate issue, I wish people would specify somewhere in the printed cite when evidence comes from a blog.

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