How Reddit Stole a Colorado Journalist’s Wizard of Oz Thunder
A hilarious newspaper clipping turns out to be a bummer of an attribution story:
Friday was another bittersweet day for Rick Polito. Actor George Takei posted a screen grab on Facebook of the Boulder, CO freelance journalist’s hilarious bygone Wizard of Oz gag synopsis. However, because Takei sourced a Reddit user’s errant crop job, tens of thousands of people initially liked and shared an item that attributes the summary to the wrong guy: the late Lee Winfrey. (To Takei’s credit, this morning he added “Credit: Rick Polito.”)
Jay Leno first quoted Polito’s 1998 synopsis on The Tonight Show a decade ago. When the talk show host revisited the same material for a “Headlines” segment in late October, a Reddit user launched the synopsis on its merry viral way. With Polito’s name as the source author cut out. (It was visible on Leno, although somewhat cryptically, the attribution reads: ‘Inquirer Television Writer Lee Winfrey and Rick Polito of Universal Press Syndicate contributed to this report.’)
Sucks, but it happens, right? Well, Polito, like a lot of ex-journalists, is having a hard time finding a new gig:
Polito has been trying to set the record straight and turn the newfound popularity of his movie listings — Takei has posted a few others and he has more than 15,000 of them on his computer — into a paying gig.
“It’s frustrating having my joke out there with someone else’s name on it,” Polito said. “For every person who’s seen it with my name on it, 10 other people have seen it with someone else’s name.”
…”It’s a quest to get the proper attribution, which is in part to see if it can turn into income for a starving journalist,” Polito said. “I’m proud of that joke.”
Another example of how misattribution is usually a case of laziness and not malice.
See a few of Polito’s other log lines→
Filed under: attribution