No Authorisation of journalistic Work

Dear informant,

I appreciate your wish to correct what I make out of the information you gave to me. I understand why you would like to see my piece before publication. But I’m afraid my answer is NO.

If I was rude I’d just say: It is my damn professional task to report correctly. Sue me afterwards if I got it wrong. Or complain with my publisher. It is our publication. Not yours.

I am not rude.
But there is more than only a grain of truth to the rude answer. Let me explain it a little more gently.

We are the editors, you the informant

Please understand my situation. Imagine. I have a deadline to meet. My commissioning editor will correct and question the article anyway. After getting the article back from you, we might decide to include other facts and other quotes. We do not have the time to then pingpong your article back and forth between the three of us. And, whether you like it or not, there might be information in the article from other sources besides you. You might dislike what you read before it is published; we don’t want to have to discuss this in length with you. You might look at what other informants said and try to bend your own statements to give full answers to the others. We do not have the space for it.

Beware of injunctions

Moreover: You may show the article to others, discuss it with your colleagues, your press department or even your legal department. Meetings will be called in, discussing about how to make the publication fit into the vision, the message, the profile of your organisation. In the end they might simply deny consent and discuss a legal injunction against a non-published article – especially if it is about a controversial subject.

You might, for the fear of the consequences of the publication, develop the wish to withdraw. But it is the right of the press to report what you have said. (The damn right, the rude guy would say.)

Let’s cooperate

We certainly do not want to take these risks, even if they seem to be minor on first sight.

But yes. I am glad you offered me to ask again and have it corrected if I feel somehow unsure about anything you related to me. I will certainly do that! If I have the time I might even mail you the quotes I took from our interview to be reviewed.

Thanks again for the interview and all the thoughts and information you shared with me. Hope you’ll enjoy the results. Please tell me later how you liked my report!

Yours faithfully,
Ulli Schauen

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