Quote Approval Is Ruining Journalism

David Carr discusses a disturbing trend

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 17, 2012 11:01 AM CDT

(Newser) – Today's journalists are increasingly faced with subjects who insist on "quotation approval" as a condition of their interviews—and that's a big problem, writes David Carr in the New York Times. Politicians who want to approve quotes before a piece runs reveal "democracy" to actually be "a carefully constructed performance meant to showcase the participants in the best light." But it's not just politicians: Journalists who cover business, entertainment, and other topics have the same problem.

Carr has had his own encounters, and he spoke to 20 reporters and heard "many revealing stories" of theirs. Ironically, most of them weren't allowed to discuss the topic on the record. This "kind of consideration … would have been unthinkable 20 years ago," Carr writes. The result isn't journalism so much as PR. Similarly, reporters are increasingly emailing questions, which means there may soon be no more unrehearsed answers. "The quotation is the last refuge of spontaneity in an age of endlessly managed messages," Carr writes. "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." Click for Carr's full column.

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