Why Experienced Writers Don’t Allow Interviewees to Review Their Work

find freelance jobs background checkA lot of less-experienced writers make a common mistake–they offer to let an interviewee see their article before submitting it to the editor. This isn’t just bad form (I’ll explain in a moment why), it can make you blow your deadline.

Inexperienced writers who give in to an interviewee’s request to see the article give themselves away as being inexperienced. People used to dealing with the media know very well that we do NOT turn our work over to non-writers to be edited for any reason.

Invariably, the work you turn in to these wanna-be editors comes back horribly mangled–bad grammar, self-serving re-writes, bad copy all around. You will NEVER get good things back from one of these misguided attempts at “accuracy”.

Also, you risk seriously pissing off your editor. After all, it’s a point of professional pride for many editors to keep the “chain of custody” of an article pristine and have no outside influences mucking around with “our” copy for their own self-serving purposes no matter how well-intentioned.

Not to mention the fact that your interviewee starts to feel like they have control over the piece. This is a huge mistake. Don’t ever allow the interviewee to feel they have ANY say in what you’re going to write–YOU are the writer, and there’s a calculated risk in talking to you. If your interviewee chooses to accept that risk, there’s no taking it back later.

There’s only one time where it’s acceptable to turn over a piece to someone you’ve interviewed for a review, and that’s where it’s been arranged ahead of time as a pre-existing condition of the work you’re doing. I have a client that expects the work to be previewed, and I turn it over. But what I DON’T allow is anything more than a fact-check. When that copy comes back mangled, poorly re-written by non-writers and full of “I Love Me” crapola, I change it RIGHT BACK to my original, brillliant copy.

Well, comparatively brilliant, anyway.

2 thoughts on “Why Experienced Writers Don’t Allow Interviewees to Review Their Work”

  1. Oh, yeah, BIG mistake on many levels–every level.

    Interestingly enough, I’ve found that it’s the inexperienced *interviewee* who usually wants to do the micromanaging. (Happened to me earlier this week.) People who have been interviewed a million times usually don’t care.

    One thing that I am willing to do, if asked, is to read back the direct quotes that I am going to use, which is within journalistic bounds. But I record every interview with my digital recorder, so it’s not like there’s much wiggle room.

  2. Yeah, I have THAT problem from time to time…funny about people who aren’t media savvy–we’re bombarded with it all day long on TV, the net and radio, but people still don’t realize once that mic is on, you’re on the record.

    Oh, and the people who want to re-write the articles crack me up. I don’t go into their dentist office and start fixing people’s teeth, don’t come into mine and start mucking around with MY work…

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