Attribution in a Pro-Am Collaboration: Dejan Kovacevic gets an assist from a reader

This blog is baseball heavy these days. You can tell it's April

Dejan Kovacevic is the Pirates beat reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and he is very good at his job. In fact, he recently won an AP award for his reporting.

One of Dejan's strengths is his ability to relate to readers. He runs a weekly Q&A, and he addresses fan concerns on his blog as well. But today's game story is a bit troubling.

Dejan mentions in today's blog post that he used information from a fan email in his story on the Pirates 11-1 loss to the Braves:

Everyone who writes for any publication, online or otherwise, will talk about how much they value their readers, and I am no different. Except for one thing, maybe: I can offer proof.

Corey Bunje Bower, a longtime reader, emailed me during the game yesterday with a detailed dissection of Zach Duke's failure to get many first-pitch strikes and illustrated how it cost him. I asked if I could use it in my game story, and he replied that this was his intention.

Much appreciated, and very much valued.

However, as I read the story I don't see any attribution for Bower. That is, it seems that this reader merits a mention on the blog (electronic reporting) but not in the story (the "real" or "paper-based" reporting). If one of Kovacevic's colleagues had helped him on the story, they might have been mentioned as a "contributor" or they might have shared the byline. But Bower is only mentioned on the blog. Here's the portion of the story that includes Bower's research:

Duke's previous game was a gem, the 119-pitch shutout in the Pirates' home opener, but he needed 83 pitches -- 56 strikes -- to get through these six innings.

Worse, he threw a first-pitch strike to only 13 of his 28 batters, and that made a large difference: When Duke threw a first-pitch strike, the Braves batted .200 off him, including a bunt single and a dubious double that third baseman Andy LaRoche probably could have prevented. When he threw a first-pitch ball, the Braves batted .692, including Prado's blast, two doubles and all six RBIs.

But why isn't Bower mentioned in the Post-Gazette story?

This is less a critique of Dejan than it is of certain assumptions of the print journalism community. I can't say for sure, but I'm thinking that the Sports editor might have winced had Dejan said that he wanted to attribute part of his game story to a reader. But whether or not the editor (or Dejan) consciously decided to leave any mention of Bower out of the print version of this story, it is important to note that Bower was in fact left out. Bower isn't an expert, and he isn't credentialed. But he did contribute to this story, and I think he deserved direct attribution in the paper version of this story.

Confining Bower's attribution to the blog somewhat marginalizes his contribution. Dejan's story was a "pro-am" collaboration (in Chris Anderson's sense of this term), and I would have liked to see Dejan recognize this in print.


It's a little odd but, to be fair, he explicitly asked if he could use it and I gave him a definitive "yes."