Source relationships

UT official who reviewed Post story didn’t allow that when she was a reporter

Tara Doolittle, one of the University of Texas press officers who recently reviewed a Washington Post story prior to publication, is a former reporter for The Austin American-Statesman. So did she ever allow sources to do what she did?

“The answer has always been no, whether I was the reporter or the editor,” Doolittle said, noting that she spent 10 years as an editor.

Doolittle, who became director of media outreach for UT in November, was a reporter when I worked at the Statesman.

Gary Susswein, director of media relations at UT, went through de Vise’s article “with a heavy red pen,” according to the Texas Observer. He, too, worked at the Statesman, serving for some time as metro editor. (He’s on vacation this week.)

Doolittle said Post reporter Daniel de Vise told UT media representatives that sharing his story drafts was part of his normal process, and his editors knew about it.  Read more


Memo: Washington Post tightens rules on sharing drafts with sources

As Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli promised Wednesday, The Washington Post is tightening its standards regarding whether sources can see stories before publication. Such instances will be permitted “extremely rarely” by the managing or executive editor.

The paper also is clamping down on quote approval:

We should not allow sources to change what was said in an original interview, although accuracy or the risk of losing an on-the-record quote from a crucial source may sometimes require it. A better and more acceptable alternative is to permit a source to add to a quotation and then explain that sequence to readers.

The full memo:

To the staff:

Over the last several days, there have been reports raising compelling questions of journalistic ethics in the practices of allowing sources to set rules on the use of quotations and the sharing of story drafts.

Read more

Brauchli: Washington Post reporters will need editor’s approval to share drafts with sources

Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli says the paper’s policy on sharing drafts with sources will get more restrictive after the Texas Observer reported that Post reporter Daniel de Vise sent drafts of a story to the University of Texas. Brauchli says in an email:

Our current policy doesn’t prohibit a reporter from sharing a story draft with a source, but we intend to tighten it to ensure that such instances are rare without dispensation from a top editor. The practice of sharing unedited, unpublished material with sources is something we discourage. From time to time, when a story is particularly sensitive, as some national-security pieces are, or complex, as some science and policy pieces are, it can be helpful to run some wording or sections of a story past a source.

Read more
1 Comment

What are the arguments for, against sending stories to sources before publication?

Washington Post reporter Daniel de Vise is under the spotlight for allowing sources to review one of his stories and suggest changes prior to publication.

Forrest Wilder of the Texas Observer outed de Vise Tuesday after obtaining email exchanges between him and and his sources at the University of Texas at Austin. The emails reveal that de Vise sent his story to UT’s director of media outreach, telling her:

“Everything here is negotiable. … 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!”

Wilder’s piece has continued a recent debate about whether it’s OK to let sources approve quotes and information prior to publication. Read more


Washington Post reporter sent drafts to sources

Texas Observer | Politico | The Washington Post | AJR
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.

Read more

Anonymous Fox spokesperson bravely talks trash about school behind news habits survey

The Hollywood Reporter
Fairleigh Dickinson University’s recent study about how people’s media diets affects their knowledge of current events didn’t cast a positive light on Fox News: People who watched only that channel scored lower than those who watched no news at all, the study said.

An unnamed Fox spokesperson lowered the boom on the school:

“Considering FDU’s undergraduate school is ranked as one of the worst in the country,” said the FNC spokesperson, “we suggest the school invest in improving its weak academic program instead of spending money on frivolous polling – their student body does not deserve to be so ill-informed.”

Anonymous spokespersoning is SOP at many networks, but it’s especially lame in this case: an ad-schoolinem attack (or whatever you call insulting a university) rather than a response to the survey findings. Read more


Patriot-News will protect identities of alleged victims during Jerry Sandusky trial

In some ways Jerry Sandusky’s trial on sexual abuse charges is familiar territory for news outlets. Most have policies against naming alleged victims of sexual assault.

But the defendant, the media attention, and the public interest are not at all typical. And between word-of-mouth, social media and Fifth Estate bloggers, the identities of these victims could spread beyond the courtroom.

That’s what prosecutors are telling victims, according to a story published Thursday in the Patriot-News:

Part of the preparation includes the realization that they will have to publicly state their names for the court record. …

When that happens, nothing can stop bloggers, anonymous commenters, Twitter users and anyone with a keyboard and Internet connection from broadcasting their names to the world.

Sara Ganim notes in her story that news organizations generally don’t name victims of sex crimes.  Read more


Valérie Trierweiler, France’s new first lady, is a journalist

The New York Times
Maïa de la Baume profiles Valérie Trierweiler, whose partner, François Hollande, was just elected president of France. Trierweiler (her last name will henceforth serve as a useful shibboleth for sorting out who was paying attention in high-school French) has covered politics for Paris Match and continues to do so for French TV channel Direct 8. That’s “not widely regarded in France as posing a potential conflict of interest,” de la Baume writes. “I haven’t been raised to serve a husband,” Trierweiler told de la Baume. “I built my entire life on the idea of independence.”

Journalist-politician pairings occur stateside, despite the former profession’s well-documented handwringing over whether reporters should even register with political parties. Columnist Connie Schultz, who is married to U.S. Read more


Study: Twitter users convinced of bin Laden’s death before media, President confirmed it

How did people learn that Osama bin Laden had been killed a year ago? The story is simple: Keith Urbahn, an aide to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, “broke” the news on Twitter before any major news outlet reported it, more than an hour before President Barack Obama announced it:

Some people assumed the “reputable person” in Urbahn’s tweet was the former defense secretary himself. But Urbahn later said that a TV news producer, seeking an interview with Rumsfeld, told him that the U.S. may have killed bin Laden. 

In retrospect, Urbahn’s tweet looks less like an instance of breaking news and more like casual conversation. Read more

1 Comment

Shield law could protect Fox News mole, Gawker blogger Joe Muto

Roger Ailes may view “Fox Mole” Joe Muto as a disloyal, dishonest  ex-employee, but Muto may be entitled to the same legal protections that prevent the government from raiding the newsroom at Fox News.

If so, Muto, who was served with a search warrant Wednesday, would have something in common with another Gawker employee: Gizmodo’s Jason Chen, whose apartment was searched by police two years ago after he published photos of the iPhone 4 prototype.

The San Mateo County District Attorney later withdrew the search warrant for the evidence in its criminal investigation of the iPhone, which was legally considered stolen. Later, the DA decided there wasn’t enough evidence to indict Chen.

Like California, New York has a shield law that protects journalists from revealing sources and handing over newsgathering materials to law enforcement. Read more

Page 2 of 1312345678910...Last »