How far has journalism plummeted in the past few years?
When it is now revealed that Vanity Fair magazine writer Michael Lewis gave President Obama’s staffers final approval for any quotes he used in his article quoting the President, it is clear journalism has dropped another rung on the credibility scale.
One of the tenets we at Bottom Line Communications have preached to clients for more than two decades is to NEVER ASK to a reporter to see the story before it is printed/aired. Why? Because no legitimate journalist would permit it. Well tell clients if you don’t want to see something in print or on the air THEN DON’T SAY IT.
Maybe we should start to re-think that position.
When a prestigious magazine such as Vanity Fair freely gives the POTUS pre-approval for all his quotes, all bets are off.
Not all journalists agreed with Lewis.
Howard Kurtz is one who has said he would not have agreed to allow quote approval. However, Ben Jacobs thinks it is now a necessary evil.
“Lewis’s case is one of those where the practice was a necessary evil,” said Jacobs in the Daily Download. “His piece may not provide a full picture of what it’s like to be president, but the access he was allowed gave him — and his readers — a much better sense than any outsider could be expected to get.”
Lewis defended his actions by telling NPR his ”goal was to create an atmosphere of trust and that all quotes, not just the president’s, could be subject to approval before they appeared in Vanity Fair if the White House insisted.”
Lamenting quote approval requests and the increasing use of email interviews, the New York Times’ David Carr believes journalism suffers, and so does the audience when the subject has editing power over his/her quotes.
“What is lost is the back-and-forth, the follow-up question, the possibility that something unrehearsed will make it into the article.”