Joe Ross

Links and articles on law and tech

David Hoffman on quotation approval

Two days ago, I mentioned a piece by David Carr on quotation approval. This morning, I found that Professor David Hoffman, whose corporate law class I took at Temple Law, had posted his own thoughts at Concurring Opinions.

Specifically, this part stuck out to me:

There’s a simple reason that most sources (including me) ask for quote approval: we don’t trust reporters to avoid making a hash out of our comments, pulling quotes selectively to fit a pre-existing narrative, and consequently turning the source into the reporter’s sock puppet.

Professor Hoffman’s reaction illustrates an important distinction that we need to make in thinking about the integrity of quote approval. I think that experts have a right to approve not only their quotes, but the context in which those quotes will appear.

After all, a journalist’s use of an expert extends beyond the quote, and can be honest or manipulative depending on the integrity of the journalist in question. The press seeks quotes from experts like Professor Hoffman, and I believe their seeking creates an obligation to accurately report not only the words but the context.

However, David Carr’s thesis on the problem with quote approval holds true when those approvals are coming from public relations departments or firms, campaigns, or others who actively seek press coverage. The difference is between controlling the narrative (in the case of PR) and ensuring accurate context (in the case of experts).