A perfect demo
Thursday, April 26, 2007 by Dave Winer.
This blog post from reporter Ryan Sholin perfectly illustrates why we need to create a record of our interviews to provide an incentive to report only the story, not to make up stuff to add drama to it.
For example, where did the "if he wants to" bit come from? Certainly not from me. I would have bent over backwards to answer his questions, of course it would only be "If I want to," but that's the same rule that would apply if he asked me a question on the phone, I would only answer "If I want to." Sloppy reporting.
The second mistake is much more serious: "The problem, of course, for folks like Dave and Jason, is that they've done enough print interviews to get frustrated at the fact that not everything they say, not every bit of context, not every piece of backstory makes it into the final published piece."
My belief: You need the discipline of having your sources fully on the record so that you're more careful about representing what they said. In this case, where the reader can fact-check you, you've utterly failed in your responsibility to tell the true story. And this is an insignificant meta-story, and not very complex, and in your area of expertise. I don't have much confidence that you'd be straight with me or your readers if the story was more subtle, or complex.