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Star Tribune criticized for co-opting YouTube video of Mall Brawl

The Star Tribune is being criticized on a popular media blog for improperly crediting a YouTube video as well as importing it into their custom media player in order to serve advertisements on it.

Jim Romenesko reports he received the tip from "a Twin Cities journalist who asked not to be named," and has reached out to the Star Tribune's Stan Schmidt for comment.

"The Minneapolis Star Tribune did something that is one of my biggest pet peeves in the journalism world," the anonymous tipster writes. "The Star-Tribune posted it to their site, but instead of embedding the video via YouTube, they imported it into their own player."

The tipster also takes issue with how the piece was credited -- to "YouTube" rather than to the user who filmed and posted the video.

"I think that's analogous to the Star-Tribune being credited as 'The paper,'" reads the complaint. "I think a lot of journalists think anything that's on YouTube or Flickr is their's for the taking and there's no need to credit the actual creator of the work."

If this is a sin at all, it seems more venal than mortal, and Romenesko points out that most organizations that used screenshots of the Mall Brawl credited YouTube (including us). One reason: The original video, which was widely circulated on the nightly news on Monday, has been taken down, so it's unclear where it originated (it has since been copied and re-uploaded by other users).

As more news gets recorded and uploaded by citizens, this is bound to be an ongoing discussion.

UPDATE: Star Tribune Assistant Managing Editor/Digital Terry Sauer offers this well-reasoned response to Romenesko:

Regarding the YouTube videos on the Mall of America violence Monday, we probably could have crafted a tighter credit line, but the reasons behind going this route included our wanting to grab a compilation of more than one video since none on their own were all that great, being able to dub out the foul language and also not subject users to the racist comments on YouTube. In addition, crediting users on YouTube generally only yields an anonymous user name, and not their real name. I'll also point out we do not have any preroll advertising on this video.
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* Violent melee caught on tape at Mall of America [VIDEO]

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