“I’m Melting, I’m Melting”
Kurtz also carries an interesting story on a blogger-New York Times dust-up. Seems a Times reporter sent out an e-mail to bloggers hunting for story info on WalMart’s use of the web, and a blogger posted on the e-mail even though it contained a request for confidentiality:
What McAdams did was to scoop Barbaro on his story about how Wal-Mart was sending tips and information to sympathetic bloggers as a way of getting its message out. Barbaro, who maintains he was not irate, says he was “disappointed” that McAdams and other bloggers would “post what it is I was reporting on” after he sent them e-mails seeking comment — with a request that the e-mails not be publicized. The online chatter enabled the Wall Street Journal to publish a short piece the same day as the Times.
The reporter is wrong to assume that a request for confidentiality is a binding obligation unless the request is agreed to. Send the request first, and if no agreement is forthcoming, don’t tip the story –that seems pretty simple.