May 21, 2007

IS ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION MAKING INTERVIEWS OBSOLETE?

It is a transaction that clearly favors the person asking the questions. A print reporter writes down someone’s answers, then picks and chooses how much, if any, to use, how to frame the quotes and where to put any contrary information. Television correspondents slice and dice taped interviews in similar fashion.

But in the digital age, some executives and commentators are saying they will respond only by e-mail, which allows them to post the entire exchange if they feel they have been misrepresented, truncated or otherwise disrespected. And some go further, saying, You want to know what I think? Read my blog.

Sounds fair to me. Most journalists I’ve dealt with have been fair, and generally accurate — though the actual words that came out of my mouth are usually not the actual words they report, it’s close enough. But I see no reason for journalists to object to having the whole interview on the record.

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