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On Interference and Editorial Independence

As a reporter, stories I write often get held for a variety of reasons. The most common are because either the editor/publisher wants me to do more work on it or because there isn’t enough space in the publication.

But occasionally, a story I have written of which I am particularly proud gets held for another reason: interference.

It’s common for the editorial and business sides of a newspaper/magazine/website to butt heads, but thanks to the First Amendment, editorial independence exists and, for the most part, is respected.

Until it’s not.

Case in point: A story on a local chamber of commerce I worked hard on has been held by my publisher as a favor to the publisher of the publication that is partnered with my publication (I know this might not make sense, but I don’t want to bore you with too many details).

The reason: The publisher asked my publisher to hold it as a favor while he completes a business deal that involves said chamber. He fears that this article would derail his deal, but if the deal was complete, the article’s controversy would be moot.

My publisher showed him the story; he found it fair and balanced, and gave my publisher a choice: run it or hold it. If my publisher chose to run it, the other publisher would support it, deal be damned.

I wasn’t the only one who wanted it to run: His wife, who’s also advertising director, and my editor also strongly disagreed with his decision.

I tried to tell my publisher that this is an example of interference at the cost of editorial independence. While I didn’t break out the dictionary when talking to him, I will here because that’s what I do with this blog.

To interfere is to “interpose in a way that hinders or impedes” and “act so as to augment, diminish or otherwise affect another.”

This is exactly what my publisher has done. I can’t convince him. Last week, he told me, “I hope you will one day understand.”

I doubt it. The story has held for two weeks and counting.

Until next time! Use the right words!


March 21, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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