New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters pulled back the curtain on political reporting Monday, revealing that many reporters now allow sources with the presidential campaigns to approve the quotes that will appear in their stories. He wrote that “it was difficult to find a news outlet that had not agreed to quote approval, albeit reluctantly.”
Here’s one: The Associated Press. “We don’t permit quote approval,” AP spokesman Paul Colford told me by email. “We have declined interviews that have come with this contingency.” That puts the AP in agreement with 58 percent of the people who said in our Twitter pollthat they never let sources review quotes. (The poll is totally unscientific and should be taken with the grain of salt that you normally apply to Twitter.)
Peters wrote that “quotations come back redacted, stripped of colorful metaphors, colloquial language and anything even mildly provocative.” Among the news outlets that have agreed to such terms: Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters and The New York Times.
“We don’t like the practice,” said Dean Baquet, managing editor for news at The New York Times. “We encourage our reporters to push back. Unfortunately this practice is becoming increasingly common, and maybe we have to push back harder.”
Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules.
A bad free press is preferable to a technically good, subservient press.
Nelson Mandela, 10th anniversary of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg, 2002.
On this day in 1994, Mandela won the presidency of South Africa. He was inaugurated on May 10.
Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.