Before I put up a new post, I just wanted to touch on something that ate up a small chunk of time in my life last week. It all started with this tweet I wrote about the wildly popular app Unbaby.me, and then a funny response from one of the app’s creators. I found myself checking out his professional page, and I noticed an article from The New York Times at the top of his press page. I decided that despite already knowing all about Unbaby.me (I felt like the Internet had sent Unbaby.me singing telegrams to my door at 7AM every day for a week), I’d check out what The Times had to say. I started reading the article, and for the first time maybe ever, I said to my boyfriend, “It would be kind of cool if ANY media outlet mentioned STFUP in their coverage of Unbaby.me,” because, as I said, I’d probably been sent this app about four bajillion times over the previous seven days.
Then I got to this part in The Times piece toward the bottom:
“There are already blogs devoted to mocking over-sharing parents who, for example, post photos of their placentas. (“You used to be fun,” reads the tagline. “Now you have a baby.”)”
That’s exactly how it ran, without any attribution/credit or link to the blog, in an article riddled with links to other sites like AntiBaby (which actually features the word “fucking” on its homepage banner), and I felt very confused. I posted about it on Twitter and on Facebook, and I was pleasantly surprised that so many people shared in my frustration. Why didn’t The Times credit me if I was quoted? I don’t remember that much from J-School, but I’m fairly certain you can’t quote without credit, even if you’re The Gray Lady herself. I figured maybe it was a mistake, so I emailed the ombudsman and hoped for the best.
The next day I received a response from Greg Brock, a senior corrections editor at The Times. I had written to him:
This article that is running today has a mention and quote from my website without attribution or mention of the blog by name. I wanted to bring it to your attention with the hope that it will be credited.
Mr. Brock’s response read:
“Dear “B.” —
We did not name the site because The Times does not use such references when they refer to things like Shut The F*ck Up. Just last week we omitted a full reference to WTF (That The F—-). Instead, we noted that we were referring to a podcast by Marc Maron.
We did not claim or intimate that STFU’s tagline was created by us or by our reporter. We were carefull to note it was a tagline of a Web site.
I suspect you will not agree with this decision. But this is part of the standards of The Times. For one reason, we don’t like to include such references for younger readers — or for any readers who might be offended. Granted, we aren’t the parents of young readers. But we feel some obligation to try to maintain The Times as a respectable publication and respect all of our readers.
You have your approach. Other publications have their approach. And we have ours. That’s what makes the world go round. And isn’t it great that we all have the freedom to choose what to publish and what not to? You created and designed your site and you work very hard to execute your mission. That’s what we try to do with The Times. The site’s name and contents work for your readers. And we try to make The Times work for our readers and meet their expectations of us.
Senior Editor for Standards”