THE “RIGHT TO EDIT”.

THE “RIGHT TO EDIT”. Lawyers check quotes carefully and indicate changes to texts with brackets and ellipsis periods. Scholars do the same things. It’s time consuming and not enjoyable. So some 15 years ago, I was surprised—-and a little envious—to read a report in our local newspapers on a speech to a local group by a high-ranking person in the news division of one of what were then three television networks. In the speech, he explained—and advocated for—the news organization’s “right to edit”. I learned over time, this included the right to match answers to different questions and to shorten quotations without disclosure. Peter Funt, whose experience with his father’s worthy show Candid Camera gives him familiarity with editing, had an article in the Wall Street Journal (April 9) about good and bad live interviews. He notes that newsmakers prefer live interviews. Television journalists prefer pre-recorded interviews “because editing allows reporters to clean up and even re-record questions to their advantage, while making cuts that are sometimes to the guest’s disadvantage.”

Television journalists value the power this gives them. Funt quotes Barbara Walters: “Whoever holds the scissors ultimately controls the message.”

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