Huffpost Media

Quote Approval Becoming The Norm Between Journalists, Campaigns

Posted: Updated:
Print
Getty
Getty

The New York Times reported on Monday about a new trend in political journalism that many found unsettling.

The paper's Jeremy Peters wrote that, increasingly, both the Obama and Romney campaigns are insisting that they be granted veto power over any quotes of theirs that appear in articles — and that reporters are assenting to the demands.

Jim Messina, the Obama campaign manager, can be foul-mouthed. But readers would not know it because he deletes the curse words before approving his quotes. Brevity is not a strong suit of David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser. So he tightens up his sentences before giving them the O.K.

Stuart Stevens, the senior Romney strategist, is fond of disparaging political opponents by quoting authors like Walt Whitman and referring to historical figures like H. R. Haldeman, Richard Nixon’s chief of staff. But such clever lines later rarely make it past Mr. Stevens.

[...]

It was difficult to find a news outlet that had not agreed to quote approval, albeit reluctantly. Organizations like Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters and The New York Times have all consented to interviews under such terms.

The practice flies in the face of what would normally be considered standard journalistic practice. Sources are not typically supposed to have any kind of control over the content of an article. But people Peters spoke to said that it was an unpleasant cost of doing business: either agree to the terms or get nothing. "It's not something I'm proud of," the National Journal's Major Garrett said.

The article set off a round of discussion on Twitter. Many echoed AP reporter Adam Goldman, who expressed alarm at the practice:


Adam Goldman
Reporters give campaigns editing power over quotes from interviews? Why are editors supporting this? Astonishing

Another reporter said she is reconsidering how she works the offending quotes into her pieces:


Shira Toeplitz
Great story on practice of quote approval I've done it, now wonder if it should be disclosed in story

At least one media figure, CBS communications executive Dana McClintock, defended the practice:


Dana McClintock
Take a breath gentlemen. Lots of information gets to the public that wouldn't if not for this practice.
Quick Poll

Do you think the practice crosses a line?

VOTE