The joy of giving

The joy of giving
: The teensy controversy over blogging email interviews before the interviews appear continues in JD Lasica’s comments here and then with Sheila Lennon adding in here. (JD’s home page appears to be down but the archive links are working for me.)

Mark Glaser pipes in again, still angry:

…There’s the aspect of scooping me — which is stupid for any subject of an interview if they want to be interviewed again. Most bloggers are getting something out of being interviewed, at the least exposure to their blog. Why would I want to interview them again?

But I think JD’s comment about “I do this and usually check with the person first” shows just how casual this is — it’s really a vague idea to bloggers about checking first. It’s just post an email, and remove it and say sorry later.

That’s stupid and makes the blogger and journalist both look bad. I am not a blogger, but if I was, it would pain me to see others flaunt common courtesy in the name of transparency….

If these are supposed A-list bloggers who want respect, they should show some respect to the people they work with. Or is this some exciting groundbreaking thing about blogging that I’m missing: the new new rudeness?

Doctor: a prescription for chill pills. Stat! Sheila then adds her view:

It’s not about us. It’s about the readers. If we can publish transcripts, anybody can.

That’s reality, and it’s about sharing power with readers.

A reporter can select and discard the quotes he/she gets to fit the theme of the story on the budget.

But the source gets to publish what was important enough to tell the reporter. The source gets to publish what fell on the composing room floor.

I think etiquette here is a construct.

There are different angles. They’re different sides of the story.

Yielding control of the information seems evolutionarily next.


: I suggest there’s a need for an attitudectomy here.

Mark assumes that when a reporter interviews a source, it is the reporter doing the source a favor.

But the truth is precisely the opposite.

When a source agrees to be interviewed by a reporter, it is the source who is doing the reporter a favor.

And we should never forget that.

Without the source, the reporter does not have a story.

And for most people — apart from link-hungry bloggers, perhaps — there is no real benefit derived from giving an interview. Publicity? Most people who’ve ever been interviewed by major media soon learn that unless you’re plugging a movie, it doesn’t change your life. Yeah, back in my TV-critic days, I was jazzed the first time I was on Oprah; but I found the experience unpleasant and so, the next time they called, I said, no thanks, there’s nothing in it for me. I enjoyed doing GMA, so I kept saying yes to them. The choice is mine; it’s never a must.

Far more important: Many people — more than we dare admit — hate giving interviews because they hate seeing what happens to what they have to say when the story published. Virtually every media civilian I’ve ever talked to about being interviewed ends up resenting the process and, worse, disillusioned with media and journalism. That doesn’t mean they were right; it’s the reporter’s and editor’s jobs to cull to the essence and the source (just like a reporter) will always resent being trimmed. But sometimes they are right and their words are mangled or wasted.

There are a few lessons in all this:

First, when you do an interview — as a journalist or as a blogger (for that is a trend sweeping the space) — remember that the person you’re interviewing is the one doing you a favor.

Second, let’s remember that the sources now have their own printing presses and they can say what they want when they want to. (If you don’t want that, then you need to discuss that with the source; these are not people who have grown up with a reporter’s rule book.)

And, by the way, note that I’m not having this discussion with Mark in email now; we’re doing it in blogs and comments. And that’s good. It’s all transparent. This business needs more transparency, for that will ultimately build trust and credibilty.

: And I keep forgetting to add this. There is nothing “private” about an email exchange between a reporter and a source. The clear intent of the email is to publish it. That’s public on its face! If the reporter has rights to publish it, so does the source, of course.