Speaking in tongues
The Cavalier Daily will no longer allow sources to review their quotes before they are printed
Certain figures and groups have enjoyed the privilege of being both subject and editor of their news stories via the process of quote review. Quote review is the journalistic practice of allowing on-the-record sources — who may or may not be anonymous — to scrutinize and change what words of theirs could appear in a story. Other press institutions are beginning to dispel the practice, and we are not following fashion but principle in deciding to do likewise.
The strikes against quote review are numerous and intuitive. The right to review quotes is often a stipulation an interviewee will attach before meeting a journalist. In some cases, sources may want to edit their phraseology to sound more apt or eloquent; in other instances, they may have minor concerns about context or change their points altogether. Whatever the result — whether some words are altered or simply approved — the mere fact of having to submit a news story to an intermediary before publication is a conflict of interest and example of censorship. Eliminating quote review is not so reporters can retain juicy “gotcha” moments, though this may be corollary, but to retain their independence regardless of what all is said.
Upon entering an interview, journalists can work out with sources whether material is on-the-record. Once this is made clear, removing quote review will encourage sources to conduct interviews with more self-awareness knowing that they cannot go back to make changes.
Proponents of quote review say that, without it, reporting could become less accurate. In former days, quote review may have been necessary to verify what was actually said in a one-on-one interview, but now it is largely accessory thanks to the technology of digital recording.
As the political season gains its momentum, more newspapers are deciding against quote review: not on some sudden realization, but to ensure that it’s not the sources who set journalistic policy. The New York Times reports that White House speakers and campaign strategists especially enjoy reviewing their quotes; these and other parties will continue to strong-arm the press so long as newspapers allow it. Thus, in following other organizations — including McClatchy’s Washington Bureau and The Harvard Crimson — we will no longer adhere to such methods. Such a deliberate step is taken in hopes that sources no longer take for granted having the final review on their quotes when meeting with press, and also to uphold our integrity.