Any chance I could see the piece before it’s published? No.

by kagi6215

Last spring when I was interning for an alternative weekly, I was given a video assignment–chefs reading their Yelp reviews on camera.   I had successfully shot and edited two when a chef who was “stoked” about the project contacted me to participate. 

I spent an entire day filming him and his staff, when on my way out he asked if I could send over the video before it went live.  I politely explained that it was not policy but that I would mention it to my editor.   After editing down several hours of footage into a two-minute clip, I wrote my blog intro and sent the piece off to my editor for approval. 

On the way out the door that night, I mentioned to my editor that the chef had asked to see it.  She told me “Go ahead, it’s great.  He will love it.”  

He did not. 

The next business day brought a myriad of emails between my editor, the chef and his PR person.  The concern; their customers might find the video condescending and it could generate a great deal of backlash for the restaurant.  Ultimately my editor decided to pull the piece because publishing it and alienating the restaurant wasn’t worth damaging the relationship the paper had with it. 

Had I never mentioned it to my editor, I would have never sent the clip to my source purely on principle and it is fair to say that I was frustrated it was pulled. 

My journalistic side, believes that since he knew what type of piece it was going to be, approached me and was aware that I was recording everything, it should have ran and he should have never seen the piece before it aired.  In addition the seasoned chef should have known to pass any press items past his PR team. 

My public relations side believes that all press is good, even bad and that any backlash would have ultimately benefited the restaurant. 

The next day, I was shooting another chef.  He too asked at the end of the shoot to see the video before it went live.  I again politely explained the policy but mentioned it to my editor before I began editing. 

She said she would call the chef.  The piece was pulled again. 

Frustrated again, I asked my editor what the plan of action was.  She said she didn’t want to waste any more of my time and the series was killed. 

 While this may not be an issue of national security that the source wanted to preview it still went against my journalistic beliefs.  To I feel the outcome of the series would have been the same?  Yes.  Do I think the relationship with the chefs would have remained in tacked?  Yes.