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Wednesday, April 09, 2003  
Agonist scandal hits the big time

Big media, in the form of the Washington Post, is mulling the agonizing issue of the Agonist. In its latest look at war blogging, the tech column Filter describes the possible downfall of the man who was riding high days ago.

The Post notes that Stratfor, the victim of the plagiarism, is a blogger's dream come true.

Stratfor's U.S.-Iraqwar.com product offers 24-7 monitoring of "events as they unfold," including situation reports, rapid analyses of developments and a daily war diary, among other things.

That is why I believe Stratfor may reconsider its alleged agreement not to take action against Sean-Paul Kelley. Despite operating under a different business arrangements, the blogger and the private intelligence information service were in competition for the same customers. People who got daily information about the invasion of Iraq from the Agonist might have paid Stratfor its reports but for that information being made available by Kelley. Though blogs are 'free,' it seems likely a successful blogger like Kelley received donations in return for his perceived competence and delivery of high quality reportage.

There are some ambiguity raising details in the WaPo story. It describes Sean-Paul Kelley, via Newsweek online, as 32-year-old freelance financial consultant. I thought Kelley was younger and a graduate student in need of money so he could travel abroad this summer.

The piece ends by asking: "Should the same ethical standards be applied to blogs as are applied to journalistic pieces?" For anyone wondering, in journalism what Kelley has done would be considered a firing offense by any reputable newspaper. You can express your opinion by writing Filter editor Cynthia Webb at cindy.webb@washingtonpost.com.

2:04 AM