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A Warning about WSJ and Jane Costello

A Warning about WSJ and Jane Costello

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Old Aug 12, 01, 3:09 pm
  #46  
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IMHO, this thread is starting to take on a bit of a lynch-mob mentality.

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Old Aug 12, 01, 6:40 pm
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Please be aware that if this thead continues on for much longer, FlyerTalk may be visited by members of PETA. It is my understanding that the members of PETA will protest any beatings, inculding those of dead horses.




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Old Aug 13, 01, 12:10 am
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....and what exactly makes it a dead horse? I think the discussion over what is morally or journalistically proper for a reporter that trolls these boards for stories is right in line with the first post, among other things

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Old Aug 13, 01, 12:26 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by JonNYC:
IMHO, this thread is starting to take on a bit of a lynch-mob mentality.

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I'm confused. What's the difference between this thread and how you and others responded to that teenage scam artist in the Coupon Connection a while back? IMHO, this thread is mild in comparison and the alleged offense is significantly worse. If the version of events that the original author describe is wrong, I am really confused why Ms. Costello hasn't corrected it. I'm hoping she's on vacation and just hasn't had time to respond.
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Old Aug 13, 01, 7:51 am
  #50  
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mileagerunner;

Seriously?? You don't see the difference between the two situations?
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Old Aug 13, 01, 7:56 am
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See an earlier thread here, "Do you talk to FT-trolling reporters"...

I am no apologist for reporters, but let's establish one thing: posting on FT (or any open message board) is equivalent to standing on a street corner with a megaphone and broadcasting your thoughts to the world. It is perfectly within the legal and moral rules of reporting and copyrights for a reporter to quote you when you are pontificating to the world, whether on a street corner or on FT. To say that Ms Costello cannot quote a sentence you wrote because your posts are "copyrighted" means that a book reviewer can't quote a sentence from a book in their review, because the book is copyrighted. Ridiculous (fair use, etc).

If you don't want to be quoted in newspapers, then don't give out your real name here. Otherwise, you are standing on a street corner with a megaphone, and wearing a nametag.

While I feel no obligation to give any FT-trolling reporter the time of day, I think that Ms Costello is just doing her job by reporting what you are publicly saying.
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Old Aug 13, 01, 9:18 am
  #52  
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Understanding that many of the comments are coming from those of us, including myself, who were not exactly involved in this (I haven't yet seen the article), I'm wondering if we couldn't make some room for a little research. Here's what I personally know about Jane. She's very good at what she does. As a favor to me, she wrote a little story about another FlyerTalk member and that member was able to enjoy his 15 minutes of fame, which would have never happened if not for FlyerTalk and for Jane. That story and person was Pudding Guy.

Jane actually knows a hell of a lot about what you are all talking about. She was involved in several frequent flyer publications similar to my InsideFlyer in the mid- to late 80s (Business Flyer). In fact, she and another person were my biggest competition. She knows miles and points long before many of you. As for her experience at The Wall Street Journal - I have never personally met Jane, but know that in countless interviews through the years, she's been one of the better reporters there, not seeking to uncover 'Watergate' from each interview, but looking for the news and what makes it happen. I cannot comment on the issue that started this thread as I do not know the exact circumstances and haven't heard or looked at both sides (that is how I make my personal comments and hope that we'll all be aware of what it takes to make a sound POV on an issue). As someone who has given more than 7,000 interviews in the last 15 years, I think I can speak with experience about the art of interviews and most importantly, being interviewed. I'll chime on on this topic once I've re-read all the posts and understand where this thread is right now.

Seems there's two issues to comment on. One issue as I said, I don't know enough about to factually comment on and the other is whether my comments on FT are in a public domain.

All this and more is the public domain. This is a public board with no fees for privacy. It's the price I pay to also take someone else's advice and tips on FlyerTalk and use them for my own gain - whether public or private gain. Don't try and overthink what I just said, I wasn't on the high school debate team nor a philosophy major. Just another member of FT,

[This message has been edited by Randy Petersen (edited 08-13-2001).]
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Old Aug 13, 01, 11:09 am
  #53  
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by yyz-den:
Plato90

She did attribute the quote, but did not ask me whether she could use it.
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Talking to her constitutes consent.
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Old Aug 13, 01, 11:28 am
  #54  
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I second gregwiggins' post. Completely.

FTers, please reread this post if you are at all interested in the nature of reporting news. He is utterly accurate in his discussion of news reporting.

As a fellow journalist, I most vociferously vouch for gw's explanation below.


<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by greggwiggins:
From the beginning, let me note that I am a journalist myself -- and that I've also dealt with Jane Costello of the Journal and she's one of the 'good guys'; both her reporting and her writing have always been comfortably within the canons of ethics of our profession. I haven't seen the specific story, but from what I've read here, that's also true in this instance.

Now Mileagerunner asked:

To which I'll concur -- when a reporter is talking to you in their professional capacity then you are being interviewed and the purpose of an interview is to get information AND quotes. The question "may I talk with you about this subject" includes the "may I quote you on this" question as well.

If you do not want to be quoted, either do not give the interview or use the magic words "this is on background" or "this is off the record."

There is a difference between the two -- "background" means the reporter can use the information to get leads to other sources or to confirm information already obtained from other sources but the reporter should not attribute it or quote from it. "Off the record" means a willingness to talk but nothing from the conversation can be used directly. Although hopefully an off the record conversation will give the reporter a deeper understanding of a topic that will help them research and write a better story using other sources that can be attributed or quoted.

Like any profession, there are both bad apples and plain incompetents carrying press passes. But most of us are not trying to manipulate either the story or the people we deal with. The goal of a journalist should be and usually is accurately conveying to the readers, viewers or listeners the "5W's and an H" they teach in J-school: "Who, What, When, Where Why and How."

If a reporter's copy comes out differently than you thought it would, that's what sometimes happens when a third person hears both sides of a story. Or, as the old reporter's axiom holds, 'you know you're doing your job right when both sides hate your guts.'

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Old Aug 13, 01, 11:36 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by loggia:

Also, newspapers do not generally fact-check - they do not have time.
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Bee Ess!!!!!

Your post was credible up to this point. But unless you work for a newspaper, you are talking out of your back side!!!

Writers do have time, and specifically make time, for fact-checking -- it's part of their job.

I've been in the business for 15 years and I will vouch for my paper's practicies stated above.

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Old Aug 13, 01, 12:04 pm
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gregwiggins and essxjay, I understand that this is the standard operating procedure for journalists. However, when speaking to someone who is not used to dealing with the media, it would seem to me to be an essentially costless courtesy for a reporter to ask "may I quote you on this?" as well as "may I talk to you about this?" It's costless unless the reporter thinks that people might clam up if they asked for permission to quote, which would be all the more reason to be clear.

I don't know what is or isn't common knowledge, but the fact that reporters have a convenient shorthand doesn't necessarily mean every understands it.
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Old Aug 13, 01, 12:42 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by MagMile:
gregwiggins and essxjay, I understand that this is the standard operating procedure for journalists. However, when speaking to someone who is not used to dealing with the media, it would seem to me to be an essentially costless courtesy for a reporter to ask "may I quote you on this?" as well as "may I talk to you about this?" It's costless unless the reporter thinks that people might clam up if they asked for permission to quote, which would be all the more reason to be clear.

I don't know what is or isn't common knowledge, but the fact that reporters have a convenient shorthand doesn't necessarily mean every understands it.
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Excellent point MagMile.

Back to the issue of whether comments on FT are in the public domain, I've seen many an article where the journalist will attribute a comment to a certain handle or username from a chat room or bulletin board (Yahoo stock boards come to mind) to add color to an article. Given the anonymity of these stock "gurus" in cyberspace, I have no problem with that, and if the anecdote is taken out of context it is no big deal. Essentially, everything is "off the record" as no one with a legitimate identity is really hurt. And if that is all that Ms. Jane Costello did in this case, then I owe her a partial apology. I originally thought Ms Costello may have revealed yvz-den's actual name in the article.

However, FT is unique in that most of the posters do not hide their real-life identities. And Ms Costello knows that. The stakes are higher for the individual being quoted at that point, and I feel there should be a greater level journalistic professionalism/integrity/courtesy. I realize that journalists have deadlines but it should be incumbent upon the journalist to explain the process to the interviewee. After all, the journalist approached the interviewee, not the other way around.

What I don't understand is why do so many people care about getting quoted in the paper anyway?
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Old Aug 13, 01, 12:57 pm
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Just had to put in my $.02 - I have had nothing but positive interactions with reporters from the WSJ. Every now and then I'll get an e-mail or phone call from Jesse Drucker on a travel related article - ALWAYS professional and quite personable. Not only has he spoken with me, but also with my wife and sister. I also recall Jane giong out of her way to write an article about United's Connexion Software in July when many members of this board were upset about UA elimination of the program.

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Old Aug 13, 01, 1:14 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by MagMile:
gregwiggins and essxjay, I understand that this is the standard operating procedure for journalists. However, when speaking to someone who is not used to dealing with the media, it would seem to me to be an essentially costless courtesy for a reporter to ask "may I quote you on this?" as well as "may I talk to you about this?" It's costless unless the reporter thinks that people might clam up if they asked for permission to quote, which would be all the more reason to be clear.

I don't know what is or isn't common knowledge, but the fact that reporters have a convenient shorthand doesn't necessarily mean every understands it.
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MagMile, I do understand your concern and I can only say that I've been running around with a notepad and (often) a little tape recorder to make sure I get the quotes completely correct since 1972 and I've never encountered someone who didn't realize that being willing to be interviewed included the possibility of being quoted unless they said not to quote them. But if I were to interview you, for instance, and it became clear you hadn't realized that possibility I WOULD ask for permission to quote you. It's just not something I've ever had to do. And I would not play the kind of game you're describing, where "the reporter thinks that people might clam up if they asked for permission to quote," because that would be unethical journalism.

In any event, the information is the meat of the story; quotes are spices -- stories, like meatloaf, are better when you use them -- but I'd quickly dispense with using any quotes if that was the price to get the correct facts before deadline.

As for the jargon "background" and "off the record" -- I'm based in Washington, DC where everybody seems to know it, and I've heard those terms used when I'm on the road for a story. But I've also honored requests when the person didn't say "this is on background" but said something like "I'll talk to you but don't quote me" or said "we can talk but you can't use it in your story" instead of "this is off the record."
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Old Aug 13, 01, 1:17 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by essxjay:

Bee Ess!!!!!

Your post was credible up to this point. But unless you work for a newspaper, you are talking out of your back side!!!

Writers do have time, and specifically make time, for fact-checking -- it's part of their job.

I've been in the business for 15 years and I will vouch for my paper's practicies stated above.
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my understanding from loggia's quote was that newspapers may not have the kind of time magazines have to check quotes. In my experience - my best friend has been an editor of the local SF newspaper for many years - if the facts in question are vouched for by a member of the staff BESIDES the reporter in question, many many facts ar e not checked. If the reporter says he/she has permission to quote, then no follow up is done to see if that is really true. If it's a weird or potentially slanderous fact abvout a public figure - sure, there's fact checking. But it certainly isn;t the NORM, at least not on one of the main SF papers. I did not see an insult on loggia's post and I wonder if the response was a little overreactive...

edited for speling



[This message has been edited by squeakr (edited 08-13-2001).]
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