Spin doctoring, doesn’t sit well with me


Recently I was faced with an ethical dilemma.  I was asked to write a news release for an event.  Obviously, I tried my hardest to make this release newsworthy however I knew, nothing would give this story “legs.”

I was asked to run my release by a few senior members in an organization.  Naturally I thought they’d change my work, but I didn’t think, they’d change the quotes of my interview subject.  I received my news release and I noticed all of the quotes of my interviewee was doctored.  I was floored. 

I have a real problem with organizations that change quotes.  I have a bigger problem with organizations that believe it’s okay to be a spin doctor.  I know senior management of many organizations, want the best image of their organization in the media, however when it isn’t the truth – why would the media care?  The media does not want anything to do with fake information.  I remember I was field producing for a local television station and an organizer wanted to stage an event.  We politely told them no because we respect the integrity of our viewers.  Not only that, our viewers expect to see the truth – not a fabricated event.

One of the first things I learned as a Journalism major, was never to plagarize and also never to misquote or doctor a quote.  In fact, a student from my J school program, got expelled for this very thing.  The world of Journalism has no room for such dishonesty and I’m shocked some people in the Public Relations world carry on like it’s second nature to doctor a quote.

So this is where you come in – what are your thoughts?  Am I out to lunch on this or do I have a valid point?


~ by Natasha C. on March 31, 2008.

6 Responses to “Spin doctoring, doesn’t sit well with me”

  1. Great post! I think it is so important to maintain your integrity and never stray away from your ethics. In the long run, all of your means to the ends will come back to bite you in the a** if those means were unethical. I’m sure you know many examples of those who decided to compromise their business ethics or personal values to achieve a desired goal. It is definitely not worth it. Even a minor manipulative act such as misquoting can result in disastrous outcomes. I think this is why most PR professionals find the term “Spin Doctor” offensive. Unfortunately there are some (PR professionals) who practice this. It’s almost an oxymoron.
    It is up to us as upcoming practitioners in the field of PR, to set an example and look at the bigger picture.

  2. meh? pff I thought the media does this on the reg. its second nature to them no?lmao not all media is like this but a hell of alot of them are. be it to sell products and/or to ruin the lives of stars that maybe be in the spot light at the time (briteny spears) lol so, yah I think u have some on the respectful side an some on the (oh who cares lets make money) side…but all in all maybe its an issue of people that are too money hungry an jaded vs the ones that really have a passion for there line of work. passion to me means, (respect for urself an the art in which u are involved in) what can I say? its sad when people become jaded…for example off topic but still related to what you are talking about umm I got jaded with hiphop in terms of I wanted it one way an didn’t like how people were trying new things so I got really turned off from the art form 🙂 but those days are done! after I slapped myself an was aware of what I was doing I said “no no more!” an now I realize there is this whole world of things an music out there I was missing out on people that are jaded only see things in one way so they act a certain way and do things a certain way… now being on the outside looking at people like that now, I now know an see how pathetic they are umm uknow what? as mom would say “them people have no broughtupsy u hear” LMAO

  3. You are definitely not out to lunch and that’s disgusting. As you know, I also come from a journalism background and in lecture, we discussed all the disgraced journalists who have done that very thing…And, many PR folks also have a background in it as well. It’s unethical and consumers usually lose faith in the company when issues like this arise. I mean, if no one is held to ethical standards let’s all write whatever we want and let’s forget about the truth. Because we all know that journalism is all about little white lies, riiiiiight??!????!??!?

  4. The funny thing about this press release situation is, one person told me, the interviewee has every right to “modify her answers.” WHAT? ARe you kidding me? I mean, it was bad enough she couldn’t form a proper sentence during the interview and then to rewrite her quotes after the fact? Crazy stuff man! This is why PR has a bad name in the Journalism world. Every up and coming practitioner out there should stay away from spin doctoring!

  5. But did they teach you to write?

  6. I learned how to write in Journalism school and I am forever grateful 🙂

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