Isnít It Ironic?  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Letters
From AJR,   February/March 2006

Isnít It Ironic?   

I enjoyed reading Kim Hart's piece on "Inbox Journalism" (December 2005/ January 2006) but found a couple of things ironic. First, it's surprising that people who teach writing for a living would assume that the written words of a source's e-mails are "just a collection of stale, lifeless words." With that attitude, why don't we all give up the ghost and start reporting on television and radio?

The next part of the argument against e-mails is that the reporter doesn't know who is writing the responses. "It could be the CEO, the public relations VP, the secretary, a clerk. It could be the janitor who just happened to be in there cleaning up," University of Florida journalism professor Mike Foley says.

With the exception of the janitor example, isn't that true of any interview? Clearly the reporter hears the words coming out of the source's mouth in a telephone or in-person interview, but who can say where those words are coming from? And what about the janitor? If I'm calling a source I've never talked to before, how do I know his or her secretary isn't answering my questions?

But the other ironic thing about the piece on the use of e-mails in journalism is that there are no e-mail addresses (Hart's, AJR's, etc.) anywhere on the page.

Drew Carter
Staff Reporter
Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest
Oak Park, Illinois