Approval for Quotes – Shameful for Journalists and Bad for the Audience
The ongoing debate about submitting quotes for approval is just the latest example of the failure of contemporary American journalism. In the NYTimes (7.31.12) is a letter to the editor from a former government spokesperson defending the process in order to assure accuracy. What ever was wrong with the old system where interviews were recorded and quotes taken in context from the public record? The piece Approval for Quotes by Chris Stenrud, a former spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration, is a travesty to journalists. Plain and simple. Instead of assuring accuracy it guarantees that nothing is ever reported accurately but is instead passed through a filter of what the organization, company, candidate wanted to spin, manufacture or promote.
This is a bad practice. It violates the good practice of journalists; it sacrifices content and editing to those who we are supposed to cover and report as first-hand witnesses to history; it cheapens the end product and gives the audience little reason to believe they are reading an independent press.