Journalists have a rule that they won't show their articles to sources before publication. I understand why that rule is necessary for adversarial sources, like when you're reporting a negative story on something a politician said. You don't want them to scoop you or try to change the narrative before your article gets out.
But when you contact me asking me to explain a technical topic in detail because you don't understand it, why in the world would you not want to show me the article before publication, so that I can make sure you properly captured the nuance? Instead, they quote sentence one of two, where number two has important nuance to it, or they summarize the two sentences inaccurately, and then attach my name to it, making me look uniformed. Then I have to hop on the comments and defend myself, making me look bad and the journalist.
In a world where sources can put comments on an article right next to an article, they really need to update their rules to differentiate between friendly and adversarial sources.
Both the remark and the "don't print that" were printed in the article.
Next time, seriously, read up on or take some media training before speaking with a journalist unless you are open to your words being repeated, summarized, abbreviated, etc.
They can't show you their articles, but you can ask them about their angle. If you disagree, it's fine to say "I don't want to be a part of that". If they trust you, they'll ask why not. If you have a proper argument, you'll flip their angle. (I have.) If you have a flimsy argument, and they respect you, they'll tell you why they disagree. And now you have a proper discussion, which I find is much more interesting than answering a series of questions.
An important component is to have recurring value. If you're a one-off source, you'll have a bad time. If you can convince them you're of long-term value, now you have mutual leverage.
So for the average person who might get contacted by a journalist once, infrequently, or rarely, probably the best advice is: do not talk to journalists.
If you're planning on making a career out of publicly airing your opinions in a professional capacity you'll probably want to intensively study how to deal with journalists.
That was OP's conclusion
She changed my position from "I could have been permanently injured!" to "I want all of those potential weapons removed from the state!"
Like you, I won't be talking to journalists again.
Journalists in general have a much larger incentive to cut down two accurate paragraphs to one less accurate (or even misleading one), after all they're competing in a market where people's eyes will glaze over a tweet because it's too long.
Furthermore, even supposedly responsible publications and papers of record have an incentive for sensationalism. Your level-headed summary of an event may not align with their editorial prerogatives.
For some definitions of good. I'm not convinced your definition of good and news organisations definition of good align well.
News organisations want to publish articles that will drive ad spend and subscriptions. You want to read articles that are factually accurate and quote original sources in full verbatim.
We have this already, in a less good light, reporters/news orgs building "good" relationships with people or companies and biasing their coverage in favor of the covered to maintain that good relationship. It sours the view of the news source when you start to see frequent hit pieces or undue praise of a subject that is a clear mark of a paper with an agenda.
Sure, the more emotive a story is, the better chance it has of spreading, but it doesn't need to be sensationalist - it just needs to engage the reader on multiple levels. There are different kinds of emotions you can hit in the reader that don't rely on sensational reporting. Appealing to a sense of tribal belonging is a particularly strong one these days.
Have you asked? What did they say? That would be interesting to learn. I don't feel that more expressions of outrage on the Internet are valuable to me; goodness knows we have had enough of those!
IME, usually quality publications get the facts right (and as importantly, they are not wrong in regard to the subtleties) on technical topics in which I have expertise. They might not go in depth enough to interest me, but if I have expertise then I'm not the audience.
In areas where I don't have expertise, I rarely see quality publications get important facts wrong, based on future reporting and on non-partisan, outside experts, though of course no human effort is perfect.
IIRC the question was why people hesitated to explain anything to journalists.
I earned myself a few downvotes and it seemed they agreed I wasn't to bright && probably had something to hide
And for this to have teeth, you need to (a) have relationships with multiple reporters and (b) provide recurring value. The first makes it possible to close off a reporter who misbehaves. The latter gives everyone an incentive to keep that from happening.
Journalist-source relationships are political. They aren't governed by laws, but tradeoffs and customs.
Unless you’re in the press every day, this hasn’t been—in my experience—worth it. Better to pick the relationships and delegate managing the messaging yourself.
Whistleblower laws deal with power and retaliation against a discloser by organizational superiors and (in some instances and locations) the state. They are not about "journalists" (which isn't a special category) but about protecting the release of information in the public interest, and apply for everyone. They're not for recourse against reporting or revelation by independent parties though (in fact that'd be directly against the point of them).
So basically what it comes down to is honor, reputation and future dynamics. It's about soft power human relations, with everything that comes with that. Obviously a reporter that develops a reputation for betraying sources will be unlikely to ever again get any sources, and the same for a larger news organization. Given the competitive nature of reporting, a news organization whose well of tips and sources dried up would suffer heavily for it, if not collapse entirely. Additionally, it's rare that critical off the record/background/deep background information is an end by itself. Rather, it's a jumping off point for investigation and corroboration by public sources and those willing to go on the record, and that is then what serves as the real core of the story. It is often the case that something critical is hidden more in the vast sea of noise and other information rather then through any particularly deep level of protection, so being pointed in the right direction and having investigators start asking questions and digging is more then enough.
It's a complex dance of motivations on each side, but over time the equilibrium has generally ended up somewhat around what this article discusses in terms of ethics. Not just pure self-interest but even idealistic goals considered long term and simple morality/empathy tend to drive a respect towards keeping promises. However even then it's never 100% certain, and it's not just the occasional genuine ethical breach or scumbag either. It's conceivable even the most scrupulous reporter could come across something so important and time sensitive that they'd decide burning their career and other lives would be a price worth paying and then just report it regardless. Conversely sources by definition are also always taking some risk by not keeping something to themselves, and will have their own sets of motivations and calculations about whether it's worth it or not.
The source will confirm it, but they’ll also let everyone know that you broke the rule, so as a journalist, again not in your interest to publish.
If you are Trump, then sure, go ahead, why not.
These Twitter threads, like most of them, don't make any sense to me.
Once the article came out, Naomi tried to get them to remove that section of the article and they didn't respond to any of her emails. She then went on to "dox" one of the reporters (though I have heard that the information she posted was available just by searching his name online).
Sarah Jeong basically attempted to counter this criticism of Vice by saying that she has asked around, and Naomi's concerns are ill-founded (Sarah used to work for Vice, so you could argue that she isn't exactly impartial on this topic). And obviously most media outlets focused on Naomi's doxxing (which to be clear -- is something that shouldn't have been ignored) rather than the original situation with Vice. This evolved into a pretty big argument, and Naomi appears to have come to the conclusion that almost all western media is unethical.
Later Vice apparently asked Patreon to close Naomi's account (as a response to her doxxing one of their employees), and Patreon followed their instructions -- cutting Naomi off from one of her sources of income for her videos. It's apparently very hard to get donations into China (crypto-currencies don't help because you cannot convert them into real money inside China easily).
Hopefully I've explained the situation without letting my position poison the summary.
> In the past few years, she’s been forced to fend off vile and unfounded conspiracy theories on Reddit and 4chan that suggest a white man has masterminded her career
I think that the main concern is that they refer to it specifically as being a foreign man masterminding her career -- not just a general conspiracy theory.
While I understand them wanting to say it's wrong (which is what they are saying), according to Naomi the idea of a "foreign puppet-master" is a dog-whistle in China (which, from what I've heard, has an incredibly protectionist culture). The idea of a figurehead of Shenzhen's maker culture being controlled by a foreigner would apparently not end well for Naomi.
: I'm not going to link it here, just Google "Naomi Wu vice".
: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0dkwwV_iaw&lc=UgxKQJHTXHv9b... -- I don't like this particular YouTuber, but Naomi responds in the comments.
They might have removed it when she asked, but I don't see how they broke the original agreement.
Also, do I understand that Jeong's only involvement with this was that she commented on the situation after the fact? Or did she have something to do with the original article?
She didn't have anything to do with the original article. She came to the defense of her former colleagues (she used to work for Vice) and claimed that Naomi was manipulating her fanbase into believing that she was in danger when she really wasn't.
The truth is that these people took one look at Naomi, assumed she was a ditz, a slut, or some kind of animal, and figured they could do whatever they wanted to her. Because, hey, it ain't a crime to slaughter a sow.
They forget too easily that treating people like animals, means becoming an animal.
What a way to lose your humanity.
I can't vouch too much for the veracity of everything in the video but there's nothing I know of that she got wrong.
EDIT: Just saw that Wu has actually responded to the video in the comments too, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0dkwwV_iaw&lc=UgxKQJHTXHv9b...
"And now this thing works for the NYTimes."
and after an initial edit, it says:
"And now this... 'person' works for the NYTimes."
Please follow the rules.
Instead, please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow the rules in both letter and spirit, regardless of how you feel about journalistic ethics or how badly someone once behaved.
You disgust me, because you are disgusting.
These high-dudgeon internet spats would be merely ludicrous if they
didn't also have the potential to destroy what little community we
have here. Both you and hitekker injected poisons: he by trolling the thread by being vicious while
pretending not to, and you with a trope of the aggressive online
shaming culture. We've all seen what these things lead to elsewhere,
so we have no choice but to ban people if they do them repeatedly
here. Please don't.
HN does 'delete' comments in one way (flagging by user or moderator), but this is not a complete solution because such comments appear before they are killed.
* Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents.
We got a softball article about a topic from a publisher who has recently violated the very spirit of that topic.
Hypocrisy is hypocrisy and we should know about it, not hide from it.
Also, to be fair, the guidelines say:
>If you flag something, please don't also comment that you did.
One of the biggest lessons from the experience has been that a promise of confidentiality should be extended only when absolutely necessary. In aggregate, it would have been better to have a smaller amount of information that could be made public than a comprehensive set of information that remains restricted, perhaps forever.
If I need to do such a thing again, I will make plain to each source, in writing when possible, that, while I am attempting to get to the truth and will treat their information with care, I may publish anything I learn, full stop.
I think the point you are missing is that people won't talk to journalists at all in the first place if they're on the record. You can put your foot down all you like and say 'it's all on the record' but then they'll just say 'ha ha ok no comment then' and you'll learn nothing.
Viewed another way, if the goal is to get to the truth and share it, it is useless to learn an unshareable truth.
/haha, only serious.
Is it possible for the news to cover anything without including an opinion about Trump--or his tweets? I am so turned off by this "style" of journalism where every piece includes an opinion (implied or explicit) about the president of the United States. Sad.
Bottom line is Trump has a way of attracting attention, which only seems to help his cause. I was just venting a bit about how often we see Trump in the news, and how Trump as a subject has a way bringing good journalists down a level because they fall prey to biased reporting due to their personal views. Did this journalist really need to mention the whole eclipse-looking thing?
It's like celebrity news, I don't care (not much anyway), but somehow this information just finds it's way in front of me and into my brain.
Most of the time, when requested by those with vulnerability, it is the gateway to critical, but potentially highly dangerous information, and a request for protection.
The media makes its money by keeping sheep as sheep, and leading them to the shearers or the slaughter. If it taught critical thought then someone who knows what a free market is would strongly oppose the single-source for news, and that monopoly would end. They would not make as much money with paid workers as they do with slaves - intellectually and cognitively speaking. Junk journalism would get junk revenue, not top billing.
I think quite a bit, and I greatly value many publications. The NYT in particular is an independent company, and so is not part of any 'one company' news media. That said, I do wish there was more diversity in ownership; in particular, I wish there were serious publications that served an audience besides the intellectual middle-upper class.
Conditions on reporting turn reporters ever so slightly from press to publicist. And at that point it's like the cliché about being willing to sleep with someone for millions -- the character has been established and the only thing left is negotiating the price.
Even though the article says it's not done, you have to imagine that some reporters will agree to change a conversation into an "off-the-record" one in exchange for access or a scoop. News orgs live and die by the access they get and if some reporters are willing to prostitute themselves to get it, it puts enormous pressure on the rest.
Conditions on reporting should be treated like doping in sports.
Edit: there is one area in which my framework needs a clarifying remark. A reporter can always voluntarily refuse to identify a source or otherwise protect it and the source can always use electronic or even snail mail methods to preserve their anonymity. My comments above are not intended to mean that reporters must always report every detail of every interaction, only that agreeing to conditions in advance can compromise their integrity and pervert the role of the press generally.
2nd edit: I'm convinced there are areas where granting anonymity is absolutely essential. My above position was clearly a knee-jerk and not well grounded in reality. Thanks HN.
The reality of human communication and social dynamics is that the same information can be received quite differently based on 1) the medium of delivery, 2) the person receiving the information, 3) the receiving person's prior knowledge, and 4) the amount of time that can be spent putting the information into a charitable or uncharitable context. Sometimes it is legitimately useful for a reporter to have information which can inform the parts of a story they will report on. And of course if I tell a reporter something, I have no creative control on how or if the information will be used and presented in the final piece.
Is this sometimes misused? Of course. But it's not intrinsically bad or good, it simply allows both parties to have greater control and flexibility over what is said. If you took away reporters' ability to get details off the record, you would not find yourself in a new journalistic utopia with greater transparency and accountability. You'd simply make it harder for reporters to find leads and information.
I do not believe that setting "ground rules" or "agreeing to terms in advance" compromises the journalistic integrity of a reporter. I think reasonable and honest people can believe it's in the best interest of all involved if they can provide context and clarity without those details being widely disseminated. The potential for misuse here does not negate the flexibility of that paradigm when it's used with integrity.
History is filled with stories that would never have been told if the people who told them weren’t granted anonymity. Going off the record shouldn’t be accepted easily, and some reporters (including some stars at the Times) give anonymity to people in the current administration who are known to lie constantly, which is a terrible practice. But eliminating tools reporters can use to unconver dangerous hidden truths just for the sake of “objectivity,” which is always an illusion, doesn’t make sense to me.
Maybe one bright line rule everyone could agree to is no conditions on reporting when covering an elected or high-ranking (cabinet level or heads of agencies, etc.) official. Wouldn't even cover their staff -- but anything you see or hear a politician or high-level official do should be reportable in my opinion.
The difference between whistleblowing and reporting is purely subjective and ultimately undermine the ideals of noble protections for the press that so many love to defend. Until we find consistency here, we are also protecting a privileged class of reporters and should at least consider the ramifications of delegating press responsibilities this way before settling.
Why should we be guarding the NYT reporters while at the same time banishing Snowden?
In an age of electronic media, our economy of attention is a full capacity. Freedom of expression is a tiny concern compared with power of distributions. Centralization of press responsibilities (separate discussion) make sense but we must confront the realities of the machine this creates when we put so much into protections. Many jobs carry great risk, and people choose them anyhow. Risk acceptance is a classical way of measuring one’s loyalty to the the collective good. It’s the basis for unmitigated respect to a nation’s soldiers. Our current attention economy and the desirability to be a reporter might serve a critical public good.
I argue we should reconsider accepting half-truths in exchange for protections of an elite press. We desperately need a press devoted to working people and this sounds like one possible ethical path in that direction. It’s not an easy one, and worthy of debate. But, what we have is a disaster.
EDIT: Off the record, I work in the press. I desire to take more risk in the name of competent work, but as long as I must compete with those comforted by the standard operating procedures, I am afraid I cannot.
Thanks for sharing your expertise. I'm sure others value it as well.
> I argue we should reconsider accepting half-truths in exchange for protections of an elite press. We desperately need a press devoted to working people ...
While I agree with the second phrase (and in fact you can find another comment where I already said it), I don't understand what you mean by the first and I'm very interested in your professional perspective: More protections for professional journalism? Government funding? Ending free speech for non-journalists? It's a bit ambiguous.
> I desire to take more risk in the name of competent work, but as long as I must compete with those comforted by the standard operating procedures, I am afraid I cannot.
Can you spell out what those standard procedures are and why they stop you? Again, very interested, and I'm sure others would be too.
Based on my limited knowledge, the primary issue is that the publication must work for customers who can pay enough to support them, which are the middle/upper-class.
It is. “Off the record” isn’t legally binding. Journalists exercise judgement between reporting a silly thing now versus saving a source's trust for a bigger reveal later. “Reportable” doesn’t mean “reported”.
Sure, but that must be extended to the fact that in reality also the reporter, the editor, the newspaper/TV director often have their own agenda as well.
The idea is: if you have a substantive point to make, make it thoughtfully; if you don't, please don't comment until you do.
“Not morally approvable; morally bad; not ethical.”
EDIT: The accusation was that the subjects all “have an agenda”. The subjects are not the reporters, so a dictionary definition is the exactly the right amount of specificity.
Where does the article say this isn't done? It only says that the journalist isn't bound to retroactively convert comments to be off-the-record at the request of the interviewee.
For better or worse, the journalist is always free to selectively report; they are not required to print every statement made on the record.
accuser - "..You spied on customers, sold their data, etc. etc. We just made a whole bunch of laws about that. Bad!"
accused - "All that is true, but I have this nag screen, those terms and conditions and all sorts of stuff my lawyers assure me makes all that legal. Those laws should really have been written differently."
judge - Oh. Well.. off you go then.
Violating the spirit of a rule, in a rule-oriented environment, is not a rule violation. It can even be vindicating. In sports, for example, playing to the rules is often considered a show of craft & skill. Law too.
I think the same applies here. There are lines that should never be crossed. But, it's better to keep journalistic ethics principle-oriented rather than rule-oriented.
Conditions can compromise a journalist and let the subject dictate things, turning press into publicist as you say. It can also enable journalists to investigate more effectively. The balance has to be determined in a principled way. It can't be litigated.
However, not all sources require anonimity simply to spread disinformation. Some of our most culturally significant news stories have spawned from sources requiring extreme anonimity. In these cases it is up to the journalist to corroborate the information.
Only if that obliged them to report what the source said uncritically, which it doesn't at all.
I mean, I'm not defending the principle, but realistically it's where we are. e.g. the Trump administration has outright said that they will fire anyone leaking information to the press. So the only way to get information about what going on in there is to allow your source to be publicly anonymous.
> you have to imagine that some reporters will agree to change a conversation into an "off-the-record" one in exchange for access or a scoop.
Corruption exists in every industry and journalism is no different. The question for any reader is working out who they trust. The NYT says here that they explicitly ban that practice, and you can either take their word for it or not, I suppose. I don't know how you'd disprove a negative in this context.