McClatchy Takes Stand Against Modified Quotes

McClatchy’s Washington Bureau Chief James Asher announced last night at the National Press Club Awards dinner that he’s instituting a new policy to not allow government officials to modify quotes.

Asher was accepting an award for a reporter who couldn’t attend. He gave his speech about the story and then tossed the tidbit out as an announcement, to considerable applause. “Hope it convinced the Times and Post to follow suit,” Asher told FishbowlDC by email. On July 15, the NYT ran a provocative story by Jeremy Peters revealing that reporters routinely get their quotes reviewed and confirmed by government officials. Since then, the Washington Examiner and AP have taken strong public stands against the practice. Politico took a somewhat milder approach, with Editor-in-Chief John Harris telling Poynter he didn’t want background interviews to become the norm or “the default” but that they had their place. He said “quote doctoring does bother me.” WaPo has yet to take a strong, clear stand against the practice.

Midway down the McClatchy homepage today you’ll notice a brief from Asher entitled “No-alter quote policy.” It reads: “It is the policy of McClatchy’s Washington Bureau that we do not alter accurate quotes from any source. And to the fullest extent possible, we do not make deals that we will clear quotes as a condition of interviews.”