What’s the deal with quote approval?

In a live chat today, Reuters’ Jack Shafer and Washington Post National Political Correspondent Karen Tumulty talked about quote approval.

Journalists began discussing the topic earlier this week after New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters wrote a piece saying that Reuters, Bloomberg, The Washington Post and Vanity Fair have agreed to let sources approve quotes prior to publication and that it’s hard to find news organizations that haven’t.

The Huffington Post’s Jacob Soboroff wrote yesterday that HuffPo also follows this practice, “and normally evaluates each case on its individual merits and seeks to get its sources on the record, according to Adam Rose, Standards Editor, Huffington Post.”

Associated Press spokesman Paul Colford told my colleague Steve Myers: “We don’t permit quote approval. We have declined interviews that have come with this contingency.” DC Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee told Myers, “I think most of our reporters know to push back in a situation like that.”

Politico editor-in-chief John Harris said, “quote doctoring does bother me, or anything that does smack of not looking out for readers’ interest.”

A majority of readers who responded to an informal poll we conducted said they “never” allow sources to review quotes prior to publishing a story. Twenty-two percent said they “rarely” do while 9 percent do “sometimes.”

In today’s chat, we discussed when and how quote approval happens and what issues it presents. When is it part of a background conversation that moves on the record, and when do “we become complicit in their spin”? During the chat, Tumulty and Shafer shared their own thoughts and responded to questions and opinions from the audience.

You can replay the chat here:

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749911534 Anonymous

    this is a major major story with legs. i hope you follow it. the NYT is completely wrong to allow sources to revise their quotes………a reporter can make a quote sound smoother yes, but only the reporter can do this. the sources can never be allowed to do this! What is the NYT thinking? this is the end of journalism as we know if this passes muster. This is PR not news reporting. Get me BILL SAFIRE!