Keep it to yourself


The recent controversy surrounding Washington Post education reporter Daniel de Vise, who sent a story about UT's use of the Collegiate  Learning Assessment test to university communications staffers before submitting it to his editors, should serve as a cautionary tale to journalists on both the collegiate and professional levels. 

This tawdry tale, first reported by the Texas Observer, resulted in policy changes at the Post (and a kind of tacit admission that this sort of thing occurs on a regular basis.) It also puts the university in a bad light by having its communications staff appearing to try to manipulate news coverage. 

My advice to Daily Texan reporters is to keep your stories to yourselves. Share them with your editors, of course, and with your fellow writers, but never send them to anyone outside the organization. I would be comfortable reading a paragraph of explanation of a complex subject back to a source over the phone to check clarity and accuracy. But that's as far as I would go.

Our readers need to be assured of our independence and integrity. Situations like the one at the Post serve to undermine these essential elements of a free press.