Quote Approval Debacle Shows Pathetic Side of US Media
If you want to understand what is wrong with US media culture, this story sums it up. From the Guardian:
News organisations in the US are reviewing their policies on quote approval after the New York Times blew the whistle on the draconian methods deployed by campaign officials to control their media messages.
The New York Times and the LA Times have confirmed to the Guardian that they are reviewing the practice of allowing reporters to submit quotes for approval by the Obama and Romney camps before publication.
Reuters said it opposed the “wholly unacceptable” practice, as did the Associated Press. Web publisher Buzzfeed said it tried to avoid it, and RealClearPolitics said it was discussing the issue with staff.
The pushback on quote approval followed a front-page article in Monday’s New York Times, revealing that the Obama and Romney campaigns frequently insist on reading and redacting quotes given by interviewees before permission is given to publish.
The Times article said reporters were being granted interviews with officials from the Obama campaign “under one major condition: the press office has veto power over what statements can be quoted and attributed by name”. The report added that Romney advisors “almost always require that reporters ask them for the green light on anything from a conversation that they would like to include in an article”.
It is astonishing that public servants wield this type of power over the press, and it’s a function of the profit at all costs culture that has seeped into the media industry. News media institutions are there, at least in theory, to serve the interests of the public by holding power to account. The press is an important part of any functioning democracy as it is supposed to shine light on corruption and illegal behavior, particularly in government. To discover that the White House only gives out interviews to institutions they can manipulate shows you just how far the US press has fallen in recent years. Everyone knows the corporate media filters out important stories in the name of profit, but this revelation takes it another step further as it is a codification of their complete acquiescence to power.
Are there any big news institutions left that actually do their jobs?