Kessler erwidert Laufer: Journalisten sind Interviewten Autorisierungen schuldig

Blog8. Mai 2013, 15:46
5 Postings

Die Journalistin und Buchautorin argumentiert, warum sie kein Problem mit "quote approval" hat und Journalisten von Kulturanthropologen lernen könnten

Journalisten sollten von Kulturanthropologen lernen, meint Lauren Kessler, Buchautorin und Leiterin des Studiengangs Multimedia Storytelling in Oregon. Ihre Position in der Debatte um Interview-Autorisierungen ist die der narrativen Journalistin. Als solche glaubt sie voll und ganz an die Autorisierung von Gesprächen. Wer interviewt wird, gibt einen Teil seiner selbst preis, sagt Kessler. Warum sollten diese Menschen nicht sehen, dass der Journalist sie verstanden hat?

Sie gibt Peter Laufer aber in einem Recht: Journalisten sind nicht das Sprachrohr der Mächtigen. Zuvor erklärte der Journalist, Professor an der University of Oregon und fjum-Referent, in Daniela Kraus' Journo-Blog, warum österreichische Journalisten die Autorisierung von Interviews ablehnen sollten.

Im Wortlaut: Lauren Kessler über Interview-Autorisierung

As a narrative journalist who has practiced her craft for more than two decades, I feel strongly – more strongly than ever – that journalists have the responsibility to help us understand the world in which we live. Some of that understanding comes from interviewing those in power.

I don't diminish the importance of this. And I agree with my colleague, Peter Laufer, that allowing those in power to have approval of their quotes prior to publication robs journalism of its integrity and lowers its position in a republic. Journalists are not – and should not allow themselves to be – the mouthpieces of those in power. The job of journalism, a famous American newspaper publisher once wrote, is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

But helping people understand the society in which they live often has less to do with reporting on those in power than it has to do with telling stories about the way people live day to day, how they act toward one another, their hopes and fears. To get stories like this, the journalist does not interview "the comfortable".

Journalists say: "Tell me"

In fact, the journalist does not interview at all. She listens and watches. She stays in one place for long enough for the life of that place, the lives and actions of the people in that place, the worries and doubts and dreams of the people in that place to begin to make sense. She cocks her head and says, "Tell me." Or "help me understand this."

This is not an interview. This is the curiosity of the journalist as student learning from the experts who are living the lives the journalist wants to understand. The journalist who does this kind of work – I am one of them – immerses herself  in communities. And this journalist owes something to those communities and to the people who generously (most often honestly) share a part of themselves.

Why shouldn't those people see how the journalist has managed to understand them? Why shouldn't this journalist share the story before publication? Isn't the journalist merely the conduit for that story? The person with the time and talent (and privilege) to tell the stories of other people's lives? It is, after all, their lives. In this instance, I believe wholeheartedly in what might be called "quote approval."

People own their Stories

But it is so much more than this, so much more important. It is the journalist's acknowledgement of the challenges of fallibility interwoven with power.  It is the acknowledgement that people own their stories, and the journalist owes them a debt for sharing those stories. This is something our colleagues in cultural anthropology learned more than a generation ago. They too go out into the world to discover how it works. They too observe, listen, prompt with queries, take notes, craft reports. But they freely acknowledge the collaboration of their subjects. Which is to say, it is commonly accepted, and very much encouraged, that they show their work to their subjects before publication.

Journalists should do the same when writing about the everyday lives of people, when telling "history in a hurry" (one of the many definitions of what we do). It will help keep us humble, and help keep control in the hands of  those who truly own the stories we are privileged to tell. (Lauren Kessler,, 8.5.2013)

Lauren Kessler ist Journalistin, Autorin und Leiterin des Graduiertenprogramms Multimedia Storytelling in Oregon. Ihre Bücher über Teenagerkultur, Alzheimerpatienten und Spioninnen waren auf den Bestsellerlisten von "Washington Post" und "Los Angeles Times". Ihre journalistischen Beiträge erschienen u.a. in "New York Times Magazine", "Los Angeles Times Magazine", "O (Oprah) Magazine" und "The Nation". Lauren bloggt unter und schreibt auf über Mutter-Tochter-Zeug und twittert @laurenjkessler.

Zum Thema

Peter Laufer: Warum man Interview-Autorisierungen ablehnen sollte - eine US-Perspektive


Über Interview-Autorisierung sollte grundsätzlich diskutiert werden

  • Menschen erzählen Journalisten oft ihre Geschichte, deshalb sollten Journalisten die Autorisierung von Interviews nicht ablehnen, sagt Lauren Kessler.

    Menschen erzählen Journalisten oft ihre Geschichte, deshalb sollten Journalisten die Autorisierung von Interviews nicht ablehnen, sagt Lauren Kessler.

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