I usually don’t write that much about weblogging here because, you know, who cares? However, there’s a habit common to many webloggers that kind of bugs me, so I’ll post about it here in hopes that at least one person who exhibits this habit will see the light. Oftentimes, I go to a weblog and see a citation that says something like “Slate says that Al Gore is only three feet tall,” or “The New York Times says Bush plans on criminalizing the use of words longer than five letters,” only to see that the link goes to something like Kausfiles or an opinion piece by Paul Krugman.
What I wish is that people would make it a habit to cite the writer of articles rather than the publication that they appear in, or better yet, both, when pointing to something. In my opinion, even bylined news stories should be cited by the name of the writer, but that may be an extreme position (and it’s not one I adhere to all the time, either). For magazine articles and op-ed pieces, the byline is by far the most important thing. A magazine like Slate or even Newsweek has all sorts of writers who bring their own set of biases to the table. Once you follow the link, you know who wrote the story anyway, but I think that sloppy citing can be a symptom of sloppy thinking, the kind that leads us to tired assumptions about the liberal media or various other accusations of media conspiracy.