Is The Post Failing Its Aggregators?
Boing Boing makes a really smart point about Elizabeth Flock—the Post blogger who resigned after making some pretty big flubs—and the nature of her work:
It isn't about talent cultivation and it isn't really about honoring standards. The problem is that the Washington Post wants to have the cake and eat it too. It is content-farming mountains of coverage with overworked bloggers, but is too prideful to let them bang it out using appropriately short blog-post formats.
The paragraphs in question should have simply been block-quoted with a link. This would have been less work than write-through plagiarism. But the pressure is to produce items with the superficial appearance of meatier, reported news stories. So that's what they get.
I don't think that the Post "failed" Flock, as ombudsman Patrick Pexton says. Rather, it seems as if she wasn't very good at the job she was hired for. Aggregation isn't pretty business and it isn't for everyone. And there's a distinction to be made between reported blog posts and aggregated blog posts.
I agree with Boing Boing's Rob Beschizza here: Rewriting other people's words is difficult (and often disrespectful of their work). It's why the block quote is such a good tool for the aggregating blogger.