Don’t Quote Me, But . . .
“Journalists take justifiable pride in their independence. They don’t want anyone telling them what they should report—not the government, not advertisers, not corporations that employ them and certainly not the people they’re reporting on. That makes sense. We want to believe that when a reporter is telling us something, it’s because she believes it to be true. Period.
“So, when we hear that some reporters allow the people they’re interviewing to ‘approve’ direct quotations, it sounds outrageous. We know that politicians and other news subjects are spinning the press all the time. It’s hard to get around that. But if in a momentary lapse of candor they say something they’d like to take back, why let them?” . . .
“In the end, we’re still going to have to rely on the good sense of our reporters to get the story, get it right and tell us as much as they can. If that involves some approving of quotes, then maybe that’s OK. You can’t legislate good journalism. The ultimate responsibility will remain where it’s always been: Those of us in the audience have to judge for ourselves which news sources are using all the tools available to them to help us learn the truth and which are falling down on the job.”
—David Westin, former president, ABC News, in “Don’t Quote Me,” The Washington Post, Sept. 22, 2012.
• Editorial Comment: Wait! Let me put it this way. . . .
• Yesterday’s WORD: Did you miss yesterday’s WORDs from Utah’s 6-term U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, on the “indispensable” press? Click here.
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