OLD Media Moves

Bloomberg News editor clarifies position on quotes

July 25, 2012

Posted by Chris Roush

Susan Goldberg, an executive editor at Bloomberg News, sent the following message to the staff she oversees about allowing sources to change quotes:

You no doubt saw the recent New York Times story that said that we and several other news organizations, including the Times and the Post, allow sources to have “quote approval” or to alter quotes.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

So let’s clarify, to make sure there is no misunderstanding about what we do and don’t do:

1. It is totally appropriate to negotiate with a news source to get something initially said on background moved on-the-record, so it can be used in a story. In this type of discussion, the source might be willing to say what was stated on background, but with slightly altered language — to clean up a a profanity, for example. This is fine.

2. What isn’t fine is sending quotes to the source or a press office for their revision or rewriting.  In such a case, you would no longer know who is actually uttering/writing the words, and it is no longer a negotiation but a surrender of editorial control.

3. The Bloomberg Way forbids direct anonymous quotes. So, information given on background or not-for-attribution can only be paraphrased unless you reach an agreement with the source (see #1 above).  If quotes given on background can’t be negotiated onto the record in an acceptable manner, we always have the fallback of the paraphrase.

So, that’s where we stand — and it’s where we always have stood. Please ask one of us if you have questions.

Talking Biz News checked with Boomberg News reporters across the country, and not all of them received Goldberg’s note. Only those who apparently work for a team that reports to Goldberg received the message.

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