After almost four years of allowing the Obama White House to edit its reporting before release, the leadership at the New York Times has announced that it is “drawing the line” (h/t Politico). Herewith the admission of the problem:
Despite our reporters’ best efforts, we fear that demands for after-the-fact “quote approval” by sources and their press aides have gone too far. The practice risks giving readers a mistaken impression that we are ceding too much control over a story to our sources. In its most extreme forms, it invites meddling by press aides and others that goes far beyond the traditional negotiations between reporter and source over the terms of an interview.
And the putative solution to the “mistaken impression” that The Times has ceded too much control to the source:
So starting now, we want to draw a clear line on this. Citing Times policy, reporters should say no if a source demands, as a condition of an interview, that quotes be submitted afterward to the source or a press aide to review, approve or edit.
This is quite commendable. But if I am not mistaken, any news outlet that touts its balanced, in-depth reporting should have had this policy in place, well, practically forever.
Implementing it a mere six-or-so weeks before a crucial presidential election smacks of hypocrisy.