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'New York Times' Bans Practice Of Allowing Sources To Approve Quotes

Back in July, The New York Times writer Jeremy Peters lifted the curtain on a common, but surprising, practice in Washington: In exchange for an interview, high-powered politicos demand the right to approve any quotes before they're published.

It's a practice used by the White House as well as the Romney campaign.

"Most reporters, desperate to pick the brains of the president's top strategists, grudgingly agree. After the interviews, they review their notes, check their tape recorders and send in the juiciest sound bites for review," Peters wrote about how the process works with the Obama campaign. "The verdict from the campaign — an operation that prides itself on staying consistently on script — is often no, Barack Obama does not approve this message."

Well, today, The New York Times is saying no more.

Margaret Sullivan, the paper's public editor, reports:

"The New York Times is drawing 'a clear line' against the practice of news sources being allowed to approve quotations in stories after the fact.

"The practice, known as quote approval, 'puts so much control over the content of journalism in the wrong place,' the executive editor Jill Abramson told me in an interview. 'We need a tighter policy.'"

So, from now on, if a source asks a reporter for quote veto power, they are to say that the paper's policy forbids that.

If you're interested in more, the Times' media columnist David Carr spoke to Morning Edition about the practice.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


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