Two-Way Street

Changing What Was Said

Here's a tricky subject for Internet journalism: Changing quotes after publication.

A consultant called up wanting to change this (paraphrased) quote — "Company X's management really put their foot in their mouth" — to something more along these lines: "Company X missed an opportunity for better communication."

If we were a newspaper the conversation, obviously, would have never happened. But this is the Internet. Press the right buttons and all sorts of things can change.

But that's creepy. And it's not honest with readers. What the consultant said is what the consultant said. (And the consultant, to his credit, didn't pull the old "I was misquoted" routine).

Spoken words can look a whole lot different once they appear in print. That's why a lot of people try to control content BEFORE publication (see this The New York Times story about Justice Anthony Kennedy, for example).

Now, thanks to the Internet, the same debate about sanitizing journalism can happen AFTER publication too.