Yesterday Nora Ephron had a lovely, lovely op-ed piece in the New York Times on food as memory, the small moments of goodness that are to be appreciated in life, and why Hungarians are about more than just goulash. I will use her words to describe it: “simultaneously sweet, savory and completely unexpected, like all good things” (now I will use my word to describe it: strudelicious!). It’s an evocative, funny read (with a major meow moment to her first husband Dan Greenburg, whom she apparently did not get a book and movie out of). The NYT readership approves: it is currenly sitting proudly at #4 on MEL.
Here’s where Fishbowl comes in: yesterday I got a tip that the op-ed was posted on HuffPo, on its very day of publication. I’d seen double-posting before on HuffPo; I knew Jay Rosen often posted new PressThink entries on HuffPo, and I recalled the same about David Corn. With Ephron, though, my eyebrow arched; it wasn’t her own website but a customer paying for content. Hm.
It is at this point, dear reader, that I goofed. Because after reading the piece on the NYT site, I clicked over to HuffPo to see if it was indeed there; a quick glance down the left-hand side revealed that, yes, Ephron’s post was indeed up, complete with the opening sentences as teaser. I didn’t bother clicking through.
If I had clicked through, though, what would I have seen? Find out after the jump, where all mysteries are revealed.
If I had, I would have seen that the click-through led in fact to a blank post, with only the hed and a link to the actual New York Times story. Which is standard bloggery, as you know; Fishbowl does it all the time. After banging my head on my desk briefly, I corrected the post and apologized for my assumption.
Except – my tipster was almost positive that he’d seen Ephron’s piece up online. And a previous NYT op-ed, a piece on Bill Clinton from Sept. 29, 2005 had been posted on HuffPo that same day, without the NYT designation. Hm, again.
So I asked. According to Arianna Huffington, Ephron’s post was not up in full on the web but was rather always linked as described above. Arianna explains the process thusly:
In general, we have invited a dozen or so bloggers, including Jane Hamsher, Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, David Corn, John Amato, and Eric Alterman to be cross-posting on HuffPost whenever they want… When HuffPost regulars like Nora or Gary Hart have columns in other publications, they send them to us, and depending on what they want, we’ll post them or link to them. But it’s their call. And I presume it depends on what their agreement is with the publication the article first appearead in.
What is the agreement? Was the Times miffed? Not according to spokesperson Toby Usnik, who said that, though the column is a work for hire, Ephron didn’t need to give notice or get consent because all she did was post the link. (The NYT and the writer have joint copyright, and after a grace period the writer my dispose of the piece as she likes.)
So – that mystery is solved (although my tipster is not convinced. But, absent a screengrab, it is what it is). Not sure how the NYT would address the Clinton piece, which IS copied in full on HuffPo, and doesn’t have an NYT credit, but at this point they don’t seem too fussed. Her story is #4 on MEL, after all.
At the end of the day, though, all that really matters is that cabbage strudel and blogger were united in a blissful burst of memory. It also matters that we are now right.
UPDATE: HuffPo also syndicates material from certain publications, including the New York Observer, Christian Science Monitor, and The Nation. Says HuffPo general manager Sarah Bernard: “In these cases, The Huffington Post acts more as an aggregator than an original publisher, but the result is the same. We are bringing interesting opinions to our audience.”