Making a Difference


Last week after finishing my personality profile, my subject emailed me asking if it was done and if she could see it yet. Of course, I immediately, and apprehensively, sent it her way. Then bit off all my nails while waiting to find out how much of her life I’d written about incorrectly.

Only to receive this a few hours later:

“I read over the profile and WOW! Its my life and I am amazed reading it..very nicely done. :)…I am just flabergasted OMG!

Thank you so much for the extra hard work and you are an amazing writer.”

(Also, I only had two minor mistakes that require only a word to change.)

But seriously, just getting that email made the whole ordeal of writing that story worthwhile 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Making a Difference

  1. Erin

    I often had sources ask me to send them a final version of my article after I had written it at The Daily Cardinal. I never did. I felt like if I had, it would give them a certain sense of liberty to change it. I never wanted to put myself in the situation where they felt like they had a say in how I wrote the article. I think there is a certain line that should not be crossed between a reporter and a source. I am not saying that your case was like mine at The Daily Cardinal, but I think it is an interesting question to raise. If a source asks to see an article, should you send it? Is it ethical? By sending it, what kind of freedom does it give them?

    Reply
    1. acabercrombie Post author

      Erin–Normally I would completely agree with you. This is the first time I have ever shown a source a story, and I took heavy precautions. During our conversations there were times when I wasn’t sure if I had the chronology of her life down correctly, and I didn’t want there to be any inaccuracies. When I sent it to her I told her it had already been submitted so there could be no changes except to factual errors, times and dates, etc. I didn’t want her to think she had any control over anything but telling me I had said she gotten married in the wrong year or lived in the wrong state. I don’t feel that’s unethical, its safe reporting and respect for your subject’s life.
      Also, and this could be me being soft and crossing the line, but I feel there’s a difference between writing a hard news story where you’re essentially collecting a lot of facts you can independently verify and writing a soft news story about someone’s private life. I’m not saying they get any say in what you say about them, that would be entirely unethical, but I feel they should get a chance to verify the facts about their life. Sometimes getting a year wrong could make a lot of difference.
      It is a good question to raise, and definitely one I thought long and hard about before making a decision this way. I already made a decision to not do that with my individual story when the VA asked if they could see it to “verify what they said.” Anything they said I could fact-check and so they have no reason to see my story.
      Thanks for bringing up something I probably should have mentioned already!

      Reply

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