'Webb' Sourcing: Who Cares?


Allen Stern, publisher of CenterNetworks and founder of NY startup Revlayer, is convinced there’s something fishy about the new ‘Webb Alert‘ video blog hosted by G4TV’s Morgan Webb. Webb, he points out, is pulling a lot of her content from blogs that share the same advertising network she uses, Federated Media. After striking out with his idea that FM bloggers like TechCrunch, Fred Wilson, etc. were astroturfing for the show with favourable reviews, Allen now wonders if bloggers should disclose that the sites they’re linking to use the same ad sales reps.

Short answer: No way. And another one: Who cares? News organisations are free to use whatever external sources they want to produce their reports. Sometimes there are indeed contractual obligations behind decisions to use certain external news sources: Bloomberg, for instance, will give news organisations free terminals if they use and cite the service’s data in their reports. If Webb was reading a news story about FM, then yes, it’d make sense for her to disclose the relationship. But that’s about it.

Federated has a roster of the top tech blogs, and it only makes sense that their content will be cited regularly on a tech wrapup show. If Webb is actually favouring FM bloggers over the rest, she’ll inevitably miss out on a lot of good content, and her show’s popularity will suffer. Probably not her plan. (Our disclosure: SAI editor-in-chief Henry Blodget’s Internet Outsider site is repped by FM.)

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