While the line between fact-checking and quote approval may be a very fine one, I am extremely uncomfortable about granting subjects and sources of news stories any sort of editorial control over the final product. The core notion of journalism is independence, it seems to me (and many others, based on my read of numerous newspaper ethics codes). There can be no independence if the source is the final determinor of what gets published.
A new friend on Twitter recently introduced me to a great Geroge Orwell quote: "Journalism is printing what someone does not want printed; everything else is public relations." While I am certain this is an exaggeration, there is enough truth in it to make everyone aspiring to journalism stay a good 100 feet back from giving news sources anything like editorial control.
None of this, of course, excuses sloppiness or inaccuracy by reporters. We have an obligation, it seems to me, to hold journalists' feet to the fire when they get things wrong. But building "safeguards" like quote approval into the system is completely unacceptable when the right thing to do is set hgh standards for accuracy and fire bad reporters who can't meet them.
I respect Nancy's reasoned approach to all this, but I think she is wrong when she says, "I know how challenging it is to get quotes right." In an era when every smartphone is a digital recorder, there is absolutely no excuse for getting quotes wrong. And there was never any excuse for confusing paraphrase with direct quotation.
Lazy journalists have been claiming forever that compromising independence is a fair trade off if it gets you access, but such access is invariably a chimera. Access for what purpose? The point of being a journalist is to share with the public things that you find out that are arguably imnportant to everyone. Gaining access to stuff you can't share is worse than a waste of time, it's an abrogation of every journalist's basic duty to report the news. Gaining access by letting your source define what gets published is inexcusable because good reporting will almost always uncover the facts without any sacrifice of independence.
So, as you can tell, I don't like these practices at all. Like Nancy, I have been a journalist as well as the subject of news stories, not all of them flattering. But my preferred remedy for being misquoted has always been (roughly in the following escalating order) to tell the reporter she/he was wrong and demand a correction, talk to the editor of the story, complain to anyone who will listen, write my own version — to take advantage, in short, of my right to use my independent voice as I see fit to create an accurate record. I commend this sort of complaining to everyone. It is a far better way than quote approval to ensure we get accurate, independent news.
Posted Dec 11, 2012