FT’s Gapper’s response to Guardian’s Emily Bell’s response to John Gapper’s ‘cut-and-pasting’ (or aggregating) comment

John Gapper’s column on FT.com asks whether it is time for the Ochs-Sulzberger family to sell the New York Times. No, Gapper says: “They would be crazy to cap their run of poorly timed transactions by selling in the trough of the recession, amid mayhem in the industry.”

As part of the commentary he also makes this claim:

“Meanwhile, it [the New York Times] produces more original stories than most rivals put together. The UK’s Guardian is another paper that has built a global brand from what was a regional paper, but it relies more on cut-and-pasting (or aggregating) from others.”

Emily Bell, director of digital content at Guardian.co.uk responds in the comments: “It is a pity an interesting piece was spoiled by such a sloppy and inaccurate piece of reporting,” she says. We have reproduced an extract from her lengthy comment below (yes, cut and pasted):

“John, in your column you asset [sic] that the Guardian has grown its online audience primarily by aggregating and cutting and pasting other people’s stories. This is demonstrably not true. If you look at our site on any given day (www.guardian.co.uk), you will I am sure find stories which are either from a wire feed (rather as the FT uses) or which reporters have picked up from other sources, again as does the BBC, FT, Times , even sometime the hallowed NYT. But this is not the core of what we do and it is certainly not how we have grown our audience…”

“(…)We have built our traffic on a higher investment in original multimedia journalism than most if not all of our peers. We have an active policy NOT to routinely aggregate high-grossing showbusiness, celebrity or ‘weird’ stories from elsewhere, which is common practice among some newspaper websites.”

And Gapper quickly responds (Journalism.co.uk wonders what is happening to journalism: shouldn’t they be in the pub by now on a Friday evening?):

“In fact, I don’t assert that. What I wrote was:

“”Meanwhile, it [the NYT] produces more original stories than most rivals put together. The UK’s Guardian is another paper that has built a global brand from what was a regional paper, but it relies more on cut-and-pasting (or aggregating) from others.”

“So I am comparing the Guardian’s ratio with that of the NYT, not claiming that the Guardian contains more aggregated than original content. I do not believe the latter, and would not write it.”

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