When marketeers edit
US political Webzine Politico and other American news organizations are getting into hot water after emails released by WikiLeaks showed that American media outlets sent previews of articles to the Democratic National Committee:
Politico admits reporter Kenneth Vogel made a mistake sending advance copy of article to DNC, emphasizes no substantive changes were made before publication
Leaked emails show that CNN political commentator Maria Cardona shared a draft op-ed with DNC before she submitted it
The media in the USA is supposed to be neutral, independent, and the people's guardian against government. At least that's how the myth goes. But at least they shouldn't let a political party edit articles, right?
(I assume that they sent previews to the Republican party as well, but it is Hillary Clinton that Julian Assange hates.)
Let's switch over to the CAD media, which deals with technology, not politics. Here editors are split on whether companies should see articles before publication, when the article concerns the company or its products being written about.
Some are adamant in not sending out a preview. What the editor writes is what gets published.
Some send out every article for preview by the companies affected. What the editor writes might or might not be modified by the company's marketing people.
I'm about 75%/25%. No article that appears on this WorldCAD Access blog is ever sent for preview. When it comes to the upFront.eZine newsletter, I send previews when I do interviews. I do this because I am quoting people, and I don't want to misquote them.
I don't want to misquote them for two reasons:
- They have the right to be quoted accurately
- I have been threatened three times with law suits by CAD vendors; by sending a preview, I protect upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.
The interesting part is when I get back one of these interviews and I look over the changes suggested by the vendor's marketing people. Most times, they apply a light touch, such as a spelling correction or three.
I am delighted when they take the opportunity to add more technical details, because that benefits my readers.
Then, there are the problematic ones. Once in a rare while, marketing persons feel they need to rewrite the article wholesale. (Should have become an editor if they want to do that!) Then I have to make a decisions over each change: valid or not?
"Valid" means the change should appear in upFront.eZine. "Not valid" means the change was marketing bumpf inserted into the text, which I then need to extract.
The worst case involved a marketing person rewriting an interview I held with the firm's president, during which the marketing person was not present. The result read like a triumphant press release instead of an interview between two tech-savvy people.
Worse, some technical details were changed. As I emailed back and forth with the marketing person to better understand why the changes were made to the technical details, I began to realize the marketing person did not really understand the subtleties of the firm's technology. Happens.
In the end, however, when it comes to things that editors and other publishing insiders fret over, most readers probably don't care.