Are you running a blog and looking for some publicity? Over the next 4 weeks I'll be talking about common issues that are worth thinking about. We've talked about basic interview tips, and legitimacy, now we move on to the next topic...
Today I'd like to write about a really common misunderstanding between writers and interview subjects. This is: when you are interviewed for a newspaper or magazine article, is it OK to ask if you can see the piece you are contributing a quote to before it's printed? Or to approve which picture of you goes in?
The answer is No.
The only people who can see the article before it's printed are the people who pay for it to be written. This is part of the ethics of the business. The PM, politicians, celebrities, rich folks etc... none of them get to approve their quotes or their pictures.
If you give an interview, you do so because it's fun, because it's part of your job, or because you want free publicity. As such you have to trust the writer to get it all down, and present the view you hope for. To do that, don't say anything you don't want to appear in print.
If you say it, expect to be quoted.
You can also expect us to give your statement a bit of a polish so that you sound better.
We change your, "well, uhm, you know, I kinda like that pasta stuff with the hot chillis...uhm, that sort of uhmmm, you know, hooker thing? Uhm, oh yeah, pasta puttanesca. You know, because it's sort of spicy? It's got a kick. And I like it with salad... especially sour sort of salad. that balsamic one... It makes your mouth run, you know?"
into, "My favourite is Pasta Puttanesca, a pasta made with hot chillis. It's got a real kick to it. I pair it with a salad tossed with balsamic vinegrette because the sour dressing compliments the spicy pasta."
For partial control, go for email interviews (more on that next week).
If you want total control over your interview, hire a writer or write the piece yourself, and pay to place the piece as an ad. If you want to control what picture is used, hire your own photographer, makeup team etc and pay for it yourself.
Having said that, I do make two allowances. If I get a legal or medical opinion, I doublecheck the quote with the lawyer or doctor, and give a note to my client that the exact wording of these particular sentences has been checked for accuracy.
Mind you, I check the actual quote to be attributed; I don't show them the whole piece. I have a duty to make sure I represent what they say accurately. However, I reserve the right to include general information they don't like, or quote other people in the piece whose opinion doesn't agree with them.
Even if I check the exact working of a quote, this does not guarantee that every quote is published. When four people interviewed say the same thing, only one gets quoted. If the quote doesn't fit the slant of the piece, it gets dropped. Also, sometimes an editor will take out quotes (usually because the piece is too long) or even whole paragraphs (especially if they get an extra ad!)
As a typical piece is checked by 2 or more people, writers know that their work seldom appears exactly as they wrote it. It's practically impossible to write a piece and edit it for grammar errors and style yourself afterwards. If you're lucky, someone else tidies up your grammar, and does it a bit of polishing, and doesn't bother you with the details. This is known as the easy life.
Other times we write a piece, discuss it with an editor, rewrite bits of it, add bits in, take bits out, and then discuss it again, possibly with someone else present too, and make more changes. This is a painful process that has everyone tearing their hair out. And frankly, the fewer people making changes and needing to give approval for the final product, the better for us poor, overworked writers.
That's another reason why we don't want to show you our stuff before it's out. So don't ask, OK?
Also, if you are in Malaysia, don't forget that there is still time to put in your entry for Weekender Star Katz Tales competition. Send me email as the competition closes on Friday.
Remember, participants must live in Malaysia.
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