January 08, 2003

Interviewing bloggers

Bloggers are discombobulating the journalists who interview them by doing things like posting the entire transcripts of the interviews on their own blogs, according to this article. The article doesn't say this trend is a bad thing, but it must be unnerving to see that your carefully culled and pruned and edited article has a big sprawling, messy echo available somewhere. It must seem to traditional journalists kind of like an actor getting his hands on the entire uncut reel of the movie he was in and giving it to all his friends. (Via Instapundit.)

Posted by Andrea Harris at January 8, 2003 10:42 AM

Good grief! Why didn't I think of that during the Orlando Sentinel fiasco? I'm such a newbie.

Posted by: Solonor at January 8, 2003 at 11:04 AM

That's the greatest thing I've ever seen. Someone needs to do that to Michael Moore.

Or just put a bullet in his fat, lying head.

Posted by: Steve H. at January 8, 2003 at 11:47 AM

I'm the subject of the AJR story -- and not only am I a blogger, I'm a journalist, too. (Features producer of projo.com.)

And the original transcript I posted on my blog was after being interviewed by David Gallagher for the New York Times -- and Gallagher's a blogger, too!

We were all cool with it -- it's the people reading the print magazine who may be boggled.

Posted by: Sheila Lennon at January 8, 2003 at 02:31 PM

I am a journalist. If the person who posted their interview put in a straight transcript I would have no problem. If they included uhs and ums it could be a tad embarrassing.

But bloggers - I am also one - are not always known to tell it straight. Their mischaracterizations could spread quickly. People would say the same of journalists too, of course.

The original Editor and Publisher article wherever I read it, was completely arrogant.

Overall, it's a good thing IF, and it's a big IF, people recognize the source and it improves the view of journalism.
The thing that puzzled me about this is the nature of handing over the interview, what appeared to be a transcript or the tape.
That tape would not leave my hands and I would not feel comfortable providing a copy until a few days after the article was published.

If it was an ongoing story I would not. If it was a hard news story I would not.

There have to be absolute rules on treating all sources as the same otherwise when it matters and the lawyers and the police come a-knocking, sources are not protected.

That's it for now.

Posted by: Temple at January 8, 2003 at 02:46 PM

addendum - I e-mailed Ms. Lennon and added the following thought to my above comment. If I was writing a story about blogging I would do whatever I could to present it with as much bells and whistles as possibles on the news outlet's Web site. It's called taking advantage of the medium and should be done with more stories.

Posted by: Temple at January 8, 2003 at 02:59 PM

Temple - >>There have to be absolute rules on treating all sources as the same otherwise when it matters and the lawyers and the police come a-knocking, sources are not protected.

Posted by: Mitch Wagner at January 8, 2003 at 08:54 PM

Temple - Actually, I think I misread your post. What did you mean to say there?

Posted by: Mitch Wagner at January 9, 2003 at 04:49 AM

After an ugly experience with the Asian WSJ, I started recording all my interviews, and making no secret of it.
Two things happened in rapid succession--I was no longer misquoted; and the number of interviews I was asked to do dropped off to nearly zero within a few months as "word got around" the media rolodexes.

Posted by: Toren at January 9, 2003 at 10:56 PM

Hell hath no fury like a journalist found out.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 12, 2003 at 04:55 PM

As a journalist myself, I've never encountered a grapevine where journalists swap information about sources who -- horror of horrors! -- insist on being quoted accurately.

I don't know Toren, don't know why he was at one time in demand as an interview subject, so I offer two possible alternative theories:

1) Expert sources and talking heads will frequently go through a short period of intensely being quoted about a particular subject, and then they'll lose their luster. The subject in question drops out of the headlines. Editors start saying to reporters, "Crimony, are we quoting him AGAIN?! Find somebody else!"

2) Toren may have been a difficult interview. He may have been a pain in the neck as an interview subject. I don't mean this one as a flame, because, like I said, I don't know Toren from Adam.

I've rarely encountered sources who insist on taping interviews; I don't have a problem with it when they do. I interviewed George Carlin twice in the 80s; both times he insisted that I tape the interview. I've never encountered that before or since.

Posted by: Mitch Wagner at January 12, 2003 at 05:13 PM