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The first part of what you have outlined is in fact part of 'proper' journalism here in the UK. A journalist is supposed to approach the subject of the story and get their point of view, partly for reasons of fairness and balance as you rightly point out, but mostly as a defence against defamation actions after it is published. You'll notice that the BBC always does this.

However, it can very difficult to get any sort of comment out of any party that has acted less than admirably, and many see staying tight-lipped as a strategy that can make a bad story go away. Of course, it doesn't work like this.

Additionally, some publishers have deep enough pockets that they are prepared to risk a defamation action if the story is strong enough, or they actively don't want to tip off the subject to upcoming coverage because they may put countermeasures in place (either legal or a pre-emptive "My drugs hell"-type confessional in a rival publication)

The difficulty with quoting full responses anywhere is that, just for example, anyone ever asked for comment by one of our more popular UK papers would be well advised to work in something about their past support of the Nazis or indeed the tax arrangements of their proprietor. I'd expect many such responses to be defamatory in themselves, and thus unpublishable.




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