| The Washington Post
Washington Post higher education reporter Daniel de Vise "employed some unusual, perhaps even unethical, techniques" while preparing a piece about the Collegiate Learning Assessment, writes the Texas Observer's Forrest Wilder: He allowed officials at the University of Texas at Austin who were quoted in the piece to review the draft of his story and suggest changes
Wilder obtained emails between de Vise and the UT brass via a public-records request, and the quotes he chooses make de Vise look eager to please: "Everything here is negotiable," he told the school's director of media outreach. "If you or anyone at the university has any concerns about it, I implore you to direct them to me. I'm one of a very few reporters here who send drafts to sources!"
De Vise also stressed his track record, Wilder writes:
In another email, de Vise wrote that he's "never had a dissatisfied customer in this process. And that includes an article a few months ago about a school with one of the nation's worst graduation rates.”
Two journalism profs (one at UT Austin!) criticized de Vise's process. Wilder also spoke to my Poynter colleague Kelly McBride, who disagreed: “I actually think that what those emails show is a very genuine effort on the part of the reporter to get not only the facts right but get the truth while remaining independent." McBride, Wilder says, told him that "the survival of the print news business has caused her and others to rethink the rules."
Writing in Politico late Tuesday, Dylan Byers called Wilder's story "pretty damning
." De Vise's actions "went beyond getting the truth: UT officials wanted to scrub or alter quotes because they reflected poorly on the institution," Byers says. (more...)