The Spoken Wheel

Beloved CT readers,

Hello there. Another Thursday and that means another exciting production night for the Campus Times.

This week I want to take a chance to focus on one issue that comes up every so often here at the CT, and one that came up several times over the course of this week.

As a college newspaper, we often have interviews with various members of the faculty and administration. Sometimes we run these as part of our Administer This in the News section, or perhaps for a Teacher Feature in Features. Or sometimes it may be to get a few nuggets of good information or quotes for a story.

But every once in a while there will be an interviewee who will ask to read a whole article, or in the rare occasion a whole editorial board piece, after the articles’ completion but before publication.

A reasonable request from their end. They don’t want to be misquoted, and as a newspaper we don’t want to get facts wrong; Any check on our reporting is a good thing, at first glance.

However, journalistically and ethically speaking, any professional newspaper would never allow a source to read a story before publication. And while we are a college/student newspaper, we still hold ourselves to professional standards.

That being said, I want to bring up what I suggested to the editor who came to me this week with questions about our policies on this issue. Writers, and newspapers, have a responsibility to get facts and quoted material right. I have no problem with letting quoted sources read their quotes, and there is nothing that says a writer can’t ask for clarification of facts or allow a source to confirm facts in an article. But letting a source read a completed article before publication is just asking for trouble.

And, I’ll stress the same advice here I would to any writer or editor starting out in journalism: Always, and I mean always, make sure to have really, really, really good notes, or a voice recorder running during interviews. It will make your life easier, and also help if there is ever a discrepancy in what the interviewee thinks they said (or what they wish they hadn’t) and that they actually said. They might not like what they said, but if they said it, don’t let them back out.

Enjoy this week’s edition of the paper. Until next week. Rock it, Rochester.
-Willie Clark
Campus Times

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