JD Lasica has posted a fine weblog entry whose title asks: Are emails private? And should bloggers scoop their interviewers?
The questions stem from a recent development that I've indirectly been a part of: OJR columnist Mark Glaser has said he's a bit frustrated that bloggers whom he has interviewed have posted interview transcripts to their blogs before Mark's final articles are published. In essence, the bloggers "scoop" the reporter himself -- which might be unethical, or at least in bad faith.
JD's article raises more than a few interesting questions: Is the reporter doing his subjects a favor by quoting them, or vice versa? And is it ever acceptable for an interview subject to post a transcript? On what terms?
This is a fascinating issue. For the record, I was one of the folks Mark interviewed for his latest article, although I didn't post the transcript until yesterday night, after his column was released. (It was another source for the same column who pre-posted.) I did it mostly for the benefit of people who wanted more information about the topic at hand. And since he only ended up using a paragraph of my response, I didn't want my other interview responses to go to waste. Plus, I believed I had the right to post my very own opinions to my Web site.
I probably wouldn't have posted it before the story, out of respect for Mark. And if he'd asked me not to Web-post my comments at all, well, I probably would have obliged, only to kick myself later. (Don't I own my own words?)
But I must say that, as a reader with a strong interest in the topic, I really enjoyed looking through the interview transcripts posted by the other folks. Without question, those transcripts add to the story. And that's not to say that Mark's column wasn't excellent; a well-crafted, smartly-edited article is a better way to present the story than a bunch of transcripts, which in and of themselves are supplementary at best. I only wish the full transcripts were linked-to from the column itself.
I look forward to the day when it's standard practice for news organizations to Web-post full interviews themselves.