NYTimes as Borg? Assimilating my SNL story; resistance futile?

As a former newspaper reporter, I have had more than a passing curiosity with how those in the mainstream media have chased my scoops this past week on the hirings and firings at Saturday Night Live. Most new media organizations and online components of print newspapers and magazines have been kind enough to credit me. But not all of them. A couple of journalists felt compelled to pretend they got the news out of thin air. With a little help from some friends of mine in the media, we tweaked them and got them to at least give me a link. And then there's The New York Times. "All the news that's fit to print." Right? I don't want to place all of the blame on the reporter here, but, um…here's how they followed my lead this weekend. (Note: I do this not only because I feel slighted personally and professionally, but also because this is just weird, in the kind of way that made me think about Star Trek's race of Borg. And I'm not even a Trek fan. Is resistance futile?)

FRIDAY: At 11:22 a.m., the Times reports on SNL's new hires, citing a press release by the UCB that "revealed" it, and oh, by the way, in parentheses, acknowledging that this also had been reported by me. Three days earlier.

At 11:59 a.m., I report that SNL had let go of Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson. And minutes later, I updated it with portions of an email Watkins sent directly to me. My headline begins: "Addition through subtraction."

At 4:28 p.m., the Times writes about Watkins leaving, with the lede: "Earlier Friday, we reported" that SNL had made two new hires. Ahem. At 6:05 p.m., it's updated with the Variety.com report. Click on the Variety.com report and you'll see it's a rewrite of my story, credited to me.

SATURDAY: The Times reports in print on C2 on both the hirings and firings at SNL. No credit whatsoever is given to me, but rather to their own anonymous sources. The Times headline? "Addition and Subtraction at Saturday Night Live." Seriously? Seriously.

SUNDAY/MONDAY: The Times decided to add to its report about Michaela Watkins by noticing that Casey Wilson is leaving, too, and that Darrell Hammond is in negotiations. It'll appear in Monday's newspaper on page C2. the source for the Times? Variety.com. That's right. The same story in which Variety credited me in their complete rewrite of my Friday post. But why credit me when you can credit a trade mag that credits me instead?

And that's how far "The Gray Lady" will go to assimilate an independent online journalist without acknowledging it. The more you know…

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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7 thoughts on “NYTimes as Borg? Assimilating my SNL story; resistance futile?

  1. I was impressed at how many people linked back to your article. Neat that you were the inside scoop on this! Definitely strange that the nyt didn’t give you credit (or even say “via the comic’s comic via variety” or something.

  2. I have a great comment: waaaaa
    Hey, Corey, how do you like it when people plagiarize your words of wisdom…oh, wait, you don’t have words of wisdom, just a non-comment. If you don’t see the harm in what the NY Times did in taking someone’s work without proper attribution, then keep your non-thoughts to yourself.

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