Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Interacting with Journalists

I had what I think was a pretty good experience with a food journalist at the Edmonton Journal (our local paper) recently. When the article came out this morning I noticed there were a few errors, probably honest ones (i.e. maybe I didn't say something clearly, or her notes got mixed up) and honestly, none of them are earth shattering....unless our stellar headmistress is upset at having been credited for the special effect on on the Matrix! The bit about Blog-Appetit is incorrect in a number of ways - but that probably wouldn't be apparent to anyone that hasn't participated in it and don't know if anyone who particpated would particularly care.

As I know there are a few journalists by trade amongst our numbers, and as this was really my first encounter with journalists, I was wondering if I ought to contact the writer to clarify the mistakes? It's not like there's justification for posting a correction notice or anything. If I was in her shoes, and there's nothing that can be done about it now, I don't know whether I would want to know. I think I would, but that's just me.

I'm keen to hear what others have done in this circumstance. Do you contact the journalist and let them know? Would they be able to do anything about it anyway? Do I have an obligation to let her know?


Amy Sherman said...

I have been misquoted in most of the interviews I have granted! Not much you can do about it. Only one publication called me back to confirm my quotes prior to publication. In the future I'd recommend asking the journalist to read back your quotes to you that way you can catch it when it happens.

Amy Sherman said...

Oh and congrats on the article by the way!

Lex Culinaria said...

I think I must be naive. I guess I though that they would let me see it or check that their facts were correct before it went to press. I'm pretty surprised they didn't actually.

Amy Sherman said...

I've only gotten a call from a fact checker once.

In one instance I was so badly misquoted and the "journalist" outright fabricated so much in the article (not about blogging) that my employer went after Salon for publishing it and got a retraction! All in all it was a horrible experience. Even more amazing, I married a journalist not long after that...

Clare Eats said...

At christmas, my partner and I where in a newspaper article.. not very exciting but we were both really badly misquoted.

Just the other week a project he is working on was written up in a Big paper and it was really wrong to.

What is it with them? It was like they talk to you to cause they have to but write what they want anyway.

Owen said...

OK - here's the scoop...

Journalists are very very sloppy. The best ones tape all interviews and still misquote you. The next best take real notes - IE they are scribbling away alltheway through the interview. Then the majority take sloppy notes. They paraphrase what you said as they write it down. Incidentally - if you talk over the phone they are legally required to inform you that they are taping you - so if they don't they probably aren't taping you...

despite all that they mostly get it right (or enough right that nobody cares).

It will do nobody any good to complain - you just won't ever get called again.

I always used techniques one or two above and I never ever had a complaint about a quote. I always taped interviews - it isn't a real interview if you don't use their words and let their personality come through.

The standards of people entering journalism now are a LOT lower than when I started (gawd that makes me feel old - 'when I was a lad...' but it is TRUE).

But there are still many excellent ones - whoever wrote up our book launch in the Alameda Star as part of a visit to the berkeley Farmer's Market did a really good job - I got the feel of the market and even the feel of our little reading and demonstration - smoky chipotle pepper and strawberry salsa and all.

Almost no journalist - even at the NYT or the WSJ will actually fact check - not on an unimportant story with no secret sources. No journalist period will let you screen quotes let alone the whole article and I have to agree with that - it lets people alter what they said after the fact.

But if they get it wrong egregiously - go after them really HARD.

Owen said...

And now that I've read the article, I'd say she wrote it very well, did very little research and made a few mistakes - that's pretty typical apart from the writing well part...(OK, that was a bit uncalled for...)

All in all not too bad and a very nice discourse on what was on your blog and how interesting it sounded - it really got across the point about what an interesting blog yours is.

paul said...

I've been "requoted" a few times and I really don't mind when they rephrase me, or even when they've missed my point completely.

I don't call the reporter on stuff like that. Maybe it was my fault for not communicating clearly, and anyway, I'm just talking about food and/or blogs-no big deal.

However I have called just about every writer who's story has gone online about correcting URLs (not just mine, but others). It's absolutely shameful that links are published incorrectly when you have the resources (a proofreader) to check them. When an online newspaper/magazine bothers to provide links, there's alway a bad/malformed one. And twice, the reporters didn't seem to care, implying the tech department wouldnt spare the resources to fix something in a measly feature story.

When I went to Journalism school (ok, photojournalism) I was taught that a fact error was an F.

Kate said...

Just a short anecdote. For the Washington Post article, they got my name wrong, calling me Kate Hudson instead of Kate Hopkins.

When they retracted, several people were jokingly upset that the star of "Almost Famous" didn't really run a food blog.

I still get a kick out of that

anonymoose said...

As there weren't any terrible mistakes, I'd suggest two possibilities. One, you could always call up the reporter to thank them for the interview and then say, "by the way, in case you do another article next time, you might want to know that blah blah blah." (Unlike most reporters who move around, I think Judy generally does the food articles, so this may not be a bad idea.)

The other option is to write a letter to the editor and hope it gets published. (I wouldn't bother because even if it does get published, how many people would read it?)

Otherwise, just shrug it off and keep it in mind for next time.

Lex Culinaria said...

Thanks for all that, fellow bloggers!

I was pretty happy with the article and the mistakes were unimportant. I'll probably just let it go. I really quite liked her just wanted to make sure she wouldn't be miffed if I chose not to bring it up.

It really is great to have so many people to turn to with my silly questions! I love that about this little community!