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Allowing sources to see stories before printing

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by big green wahoo, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. I'm expecting a heavy dose of ``absolutely not'' on this one, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyways.

    Ever since coming into the business, I've heard that you should never, ever show a source your whole story before it runs. I'm talking about telling them they can't retract or change any statements, then letting them read a print-out and taking it back.

    I've done this on a couple of occasions and it's been helpful. First, I've had a few mistakes pointed out that the copy desk wouldn't have known to change. Second, the sources are often grateful to know what's coming down the pike.

    Obviously, there are some situations where this is a terrible idea. I'm sure they'll be laid out for me and others.

    But do you think it's time to perhaps at least examine the idea that letting some folks see a story beforehand has some value?
  2. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member


    When you do, and get the "You CAN'T print that!" reaction before they go above your head, let us know how it works out.
  3. Babs

    Babs Member

    It's such a can of worms, that the benefits like error-catching are outweighed by the profoundly bad things that can come of this.

    Besides, you can fix the errors on the web anyway.
  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Never say never about anything. That said, never grant a source prior restraint about a full story.

    Sure, sometimes it's necessary to call back late and ask a source if you quoted them correctly or for confirmation, and if that entails reading them the relevant passage in a story that's already been written, so be it. But letting them see the whole story? You're treading on thin ice there. Bad policy.

    You want folks to see a story beforehand to point out mistakes? Show it to your editor. And the desk.
  5. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    I've been taught to let people know the quotes of theirs that you're using, offering them the full quote without the story context, so they can confirm that's what they said.

    Giving them the whole story to once-over? That's a whole other kettle of kettle corn. If it's a story with two sides, which side gets to look at it last? And yes, there's the "I'm going to your boss to put a stop to this!", so it depends on how much you think of your bosses.
  6. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    'That's not what I said.'
    'That's not what I meant.'
    'You need to take that out.'
    'That guy is liar.'
    'I thought this was going to be a positive story.'
    'I said off the record.'
    'Why are you telling his side?'
    'I trusted you.'
    'You don't get it.'
    'Why are you trying to make me look bad?'
    'I ran it by my lawyer, he's going to give you a call.'
  7. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    What Buck said.

  8. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Active Member

    No. No. No.

    No×1000, in fact.
  9. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    If it's 'stuff the desk wouldn't have known to change,' then it's your job to make sure it's not wrong in the first place.

    Not the source's. Not your city/sports editor. Yours.

    Frankly, that goes for everything, but then if reporters got everything right, we wouldn't need copy editors. (And by the way, I can tell you there's nothing at all copy editors enjoy more than a story full of 'don't change this' notes. We enjoy that almost as much as being told what we wouldn't have known to change.)
  10. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    No, no, no, talk to him about it, I'm sorry, not according to this audio file I have of the interview, I'm sorry you feel that you shouldn't have, explain it to me, I'm not, I'll forward it to my editor.

    Where's the problem?
  11. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    If you do it for one person, you need to do it for everyone.
  12. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member


    I'm a big kid. I can make judgment calls.
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