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December 05, 2005
Said in an interview, by phone or in an email. . .
Reader Tom Jones asked today about why there seems to be more information in Globe stories about where and how a person's quotes were obtained. Here's his question and response from a senior Globe editor.
Congrats on the new blog.
What piqued my interest in these citations is the recent addition of "when contacted by email".
While it is always good journalism to cite your sources, I find that the means of communication detracts from readability of the article and adds little to qualify the validity of the source or enhance the credibility of the story. For example, last Sunday's paper had a citation stating that the correspondence occurred 'last week via email.' While the time factor could prove useful to put a comment into context, does it really matter if the means of communication is by email, phone, or live?
If the intent is to add context to the story, why not include more facts like "..when I contacted Mr. Johnson via email last night from the comfort of my home while wearing my bunny slippers..." :-)
Could you comment on the motivation / justification for this subtle change?
There are more ways today that reporters can interview a subject - in person, by phone or even by email. Some news organizations have - in the spirit of transparency - required stories to be clearer on how a person's quote was obtained.
This comes under guidelines that reporters be clear about the circumstances of their reporting. The principle is to avoid implying that we observed something -- a scene, an interview, an event -- when we did not. The best, briefest way to do so is to include the type of interview, and we have long recommended making clear that it was done by telephone. Saying something was sent in an email is clearer than simply saying "she wrote," and indicates a communication less formal and quicker than a letter. Interviews in person, by phone, by email, or in response to a written set of questions are distinct exchanges allowing a full range of interpretations and responses, and we feel making those circumstances known is good practice.
POSTED BY: rchacon | TIME: 08:34:19 PM | Link