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You Heard it Here First

Filed under: The Buffalo News

File this under sour grapes. Read no further if petty squabbling among inkstained wretches makes you tired.

I don’t grouse too much about the Buffalo News, at least not for publication. But this nags at me: When stories in the News use reporting that originated in Artvoice, they never credit us for our work.

Take this example: Here are two articles by Peter Simon of the News on the great expanding McKinley High School scandal: one from Tuesday, April 1, and another from Wednesday, March 12. Both refer to a letter from an anonymous retired teacher, alleging gross misconduct at McKinley, which Buffalo school board member Ralph Hernandez received and forwarded to his fellow board members and to the New York State Department of Education.

Artvoice obtained and published that letter first, right here, on Friday, March 7. (There’s also a link to it in the post below.) We know for a fact that we were the only news outlet that had the letter at that point, and we’re confident that Peter Simon first saw the letter on our Web site. How do we know? Because we sent him a link as soon as we published it. We sent the link to TV and radio stations, and to a bunch of Buffalo News reporters, two of whom (Mark Sommer and Donn Esmonde) wrote back to thank us for sharing. Simon did not, but I’m willing to bet he took a look at what we posted. Maybe he called Hernandez himself to get the letter later on, but he learned about it first from us.

I don’t expect a citation from Donn Esmonde in his column—he’s writing a commentary that draws on reporting by lots of folks. He doesn’t need to credit them all. But Simon, or his editors, should have credited Artvoice for obtaining and publishing the document first.

It’s not the first time the Buffalo News has used Artvoice‘s original reporting without attribution. We were the first to write about SEC filings by the Seneca Gaming Corporation that revealed the company’s plan to market its slot machines exclusively to the local market. The News followed, but never credited us for having found and published the information first.

There are lots of examples over the years. What’s galling about it is that we cite the good work that Buffalo News reporters do all the time. We give credit where it’s due. I wish they—whether they are the reporters or the editors who decide what makes it to the page—would be big enough to do the same.