A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Letters to the Editor: December 2006

By Quill

Does Quill advocate manufacturing stories?

To the editor:

On Page 34 of the October/November issue of Quill, David Cullier’s “The Art of Access: Getting public records through the power of persuasion” column contains the following paragraph in a section titled Reciprocation:

Write a feature on the agency — something positive and newsworthy. Then later, when you request records, officials are more likely to comply.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Are Mr. Cullier and Quill/SPJ advocating manufacturing a story in order to get favors? That’s surely how it appears.

Unless I’m missing something, Quill’s readers are being told that it’s OK to “grease” public officials with favorable coverage that might lead to fulfillment of freedom of information requests. That’s not my kind of “freedom.”

Willie Weinbaum, New York City

Quill commentary about Cuba troubling

To the editor:

The October/November issue of Quill has a rather troubling commentary on “News organizations get creative to cover Castro-less Cuba.” (page 40)

What’s troubling about it? Well, for one thing, the commentary makes absolutely no mention at all about restrictions placed by the U.S. government on traveling to Cuba, reporting from inside Cuba, etc. Indeed, the article mentions that reporters sneaking into Cuba are violating Cuban law, but ignores the point that such people also are violating U.S. law.

The commentary has a silly reference to Castro as “America’s arch enemy” — arch enemies aren’t what they used to be, I suppose. In sum, the commentary is testimony to the jingoistic approach we bring to news coverage of international affairs in general and Cuba in particular.

Herb Strentz, professor emeritus, School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa