Op-Ed of the Day: “The puppetry of quotation approval”

Alex DiPalma chose our Op-Ed of the Day, which comes from David Carr of the New York Times.

Here’s why it resonated with Alex:

It’s been amazing to see the way that presidential candidates and their strategists have managed to control image and messaging throughout the campaign – nearly every appearance and event (with some exceptions, as we’ve seen) seems scripted and rehearsed. So it was disconcerting to learn that journalists must agree to rigorous quotation-approval processes because, as Carr put it, “the quotation is the last refuge of spontaneity in an age of endlessly managed messages.”

Here’s how Carr describes the process:

Within the past year, I’ve had a communications executive at a media company ask me to run quotations by him after an interview with the chief executive. I’ve had analysts, who are in the business of giving their opinion, ask me to e-mail the portion of the conversation that I intended to print. And not long ago, a spokesman, someone paid to talk, refused to put his name to a statement. Most of the time I push back, but if it’s something I feel I absolutely need, I start negotiating.

So why aren’t reporters rising up? Carr says the reporters themselves are part of the problem.

In an effort to get it first, reporters sometimes cut corners, sending questions by e-mail and taking responses the same way. What is lost is the back-and-forth, the follow-up question, the possibility that something unrehearsed will make it into the article. Keep in mind that when public figures get in trouble for something they said, it is usually not because they misspoke, but because they accidentally told the truth.

Read Carr’s piece. He finds some journalists pushback. And they are not the pros.

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host