Bloomberg News: We don’t allow sources to have ‘quote approval’

A memo to Bloomberg staffers reminds them “it is totally appropriate to negotiate with a news source to get something initially said on background moved on-the-record, so it can be used in a story” but “what isn’t fine is sending quotes to the source or a press office for their revision or rewriting. In such a case, you would no longer know who is actually uttering/writing the words, and it is no longer a negotiation but a surrender of editorial control.”

Read the full memo from executive editor Susan Goldberg and others after the jump.


Folks:

You no doubt saw the recent New York Times story that said that we and several other news organizations, including the Times and the Post, allow sources to have “quote approval” or to alter quotes.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

So let’s clarify, to make sure there is no misunderstanding about what we do and don’t do:

1. It is totally appropriate to negotiate with a news source to get something initially said on background moved on-the-record, so it can be used in a story. In this type of discussion, the source might be willing to say what was stated on background, but with slightly altered language — to clean up a a profanity, for example. This is fine.

2. What isn’t fine is sending quotes to the source or a press office for their revision or rewriting. In such a case, you would no longer know who is actually uttering/writing the words, and it is no longer a negotiation but a surrender of editorial control.

3. The Bloomberg Way forbids direct anonymous quotes. So, information given on
background or not-for-attribution can only be paraphrased unless you reach an agreement with the source (see #1 above). If quotes given on background can’t be negotiated onto the record in an acceptable manner, we always have the fallback of the paraphrase.

So, that’s where we stand — and it’s where we always have stood. Please ask one of us if you have questions.

Thanks,

Susan, Al and Dan

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