The flip side of reading the latest gaffe thirty seconds after it blows up on Twitter: politicians and officials are leveraging journalist access for the privilege to edit their own quotes.
It goes like this: journalists get the access they want, while politicians and officials get to review and refine what quotes the journalist took down. Eager journalists will grudgingly trade for access to, say, the Obama campaign and send in their choice quotes only to have the press office refuse to put Obama’s stamp of approval. Sadly ironic point: the journalists quoted in the NY Times story spoke on condition of anonymity, probably to preserve the bond of trust between them and their politician sources who want to edit the quotes they give anyway. Though no journalists said that their sources altered the meaning of the quotes and the words changed seemed innocuous, the level of particularity implies just how rigidly officials are going to stick to their party’s script:
Those who did speak on the record said the restrictions seem only to be growing. “It’s not something I’m particularly proud of because there’s a part of me that says, ‘Don’t do it, don’t agree to their terms,’ ” said Major Garrett, a correspondent for The National Journal. “There are times when this feels like I’m dealing with some of my editors. It’s like, ‘You just changed this because you could!’ ”
Though reluctant, the biggest of the big news orgs–The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, Bloomberg–have all consented to interviews under such terms, and the trend is only increasing.