Friday August 10, 2007

Edited Herald letter

Herald Watch got a hold of a letter to the editor sent to the Herald and compared it to the published version. The letter is by former Herald journalist Paul Crespo, one of the subjects of Oscar Corral’s Radio Marti story. The strikeout text was deleted from the version published, underlined text was added. Interesting:

Reporter arrested / I was amazed -- but not surprised -- by your coverage of the arrest of Miami Herald reporter Oscar Corral. As the self-styled arbiter of ethics in Miami, The Miami Herald is displaying its own lack of ethics and professionalism in this case. In contrast to your front-page coverage of several Cuban-American journalists (including me) in 2006, your microscopic coverage of Corral's recent arrest for allegedly soliciting a prostitute was hidden on page three of the Metro section. / Regarding the front-page story by Corral about our freelancing for TV Marti, your own ombudsman, Clark Hoyt, found numerous flaws in Corral's reporting. Among the many critiques in his report on Corral's article, Hoyt stated that the story's ''hard and accusatory tone and the large and breathless headline suggested something more sinister than the story actually reported.'' What a difference between your piece against us and this minimal coverage of your reporter who wrote it. -- PAUL CRESPO, Coral Gables

What happened here? Well, they haven’t made it sound like Paul is saying anything he didn’t say. They’ve selected one particular point he made and deleted the material that’s tangential to that point. In the process, much of the anger obvious in the original has been sapped. There’s no question that the Herald editors have the right to do this. The question becomes, again, what should newspapers do differently in light of the internet?

A commenter on HW says: “On the web, there is little space limitation. They could have at least published the full version online.” More interestingly, they could publish both versions online, and let us see the edits. Such radical transparency seems to be the direction the internet is pushing all business, and it’s not ironic that newspapers are getting pushed in this direction, too. It will be interesting to see how long they fight this, and to what extent they are willing and able to change.

In the meantime, let’s have more of this. CC Conductor on letters you send to the Herald, and maybe these sorts of revision-revealed letters will become a regular feature.

[Accessibility note: the edited version of the letter is in the image’s alt-text. The original version is here.]

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  1. Gus    Fri Aug 10, 10:50 AM #  

    Misquoted? Hit back with Google:

    “Google has launched a new service allowing people that are quoted, or mentioned, in news stories the right to reply to the articles.

    In a move that will no doubt please anyone ever misquoted by a journalist, the comments are to be published alongside the article for all to see.

    The search engine has begun the experimental service on its US Google News homepage, its central news page which displays stories from the world’s media.”

    Unfortunately, I searched Google News for [Paul Crespo] but found no results.

  2. Duran    Fri Aug 10, 02:35 PM #  

    Ethically editors are allowed to delete things out of letter for length and clarity, however they are not to change the meaning or add anything to it. If they have to add a word or clarification it must be put in brackets letting the reader know the editor not the author added those words.