Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Question of the week (#4)

Should editors permit advertisers or sources to review articles prior to publication?

At the editorial ethics meeting, some editors said that they call sources and read the quotes to be used and the context they would be used in. Others said that they didn't allow review at all. No one said that they allowed advertisers to review articles.

What are the issues here? Where are the potential pitfalls? Are there benefits to allowing sources or advertisers to preview articles? Or is this something that ethically should always be avoided?



Bill King said...

Absolutely not. Once you go down that path, there's no turning back, unless the publisher decides to "take a Mulligan (do over)," claim that he/she (gasp, horror, shock)had no idea that you were compromising the editorial integrity of the magazine, at which point he/she will fire you, and try to resurrect your publication's reputation with a new editorial staff.

Paul Conley said...

It's very, very, very rare when I suggest that an editor read a story to a source before it's published.
However, unless you're working in real time, I always think it's a good idea to call or email a source before a story appears and review all the FACTUAL material in a story. Give this a try and see how much more accurate your story will turn out to be.
In other words, give your source(s) a call and ask things like: "So....I'm just double-checking here. You're 47-years old. You joined the company in 1996. Your title is chief marketing officer. The company reported net income of $38 million in the fourth quarter on revenue of $127.3 million, etc."
There's no downside to doing this...and I promise that you'll prevent a lot of silly errors.