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Jason sat down recently with NPR's On The Media to discuss the issues surrounding the recent kerfuffle regarding the preference of some interviewees to do their interviews by email.


Unlike the version you may have heard on NPR, this is the 100% unedited version!


A truly interesting look at what happens behind the editing, after hearing this you may gain a whole new perspective on the often overlooked power of editing.










contact: cast at calacanis.com


Tyler: This episode of the CalacanisCast is sponsored by Godaddy and Podtech.net. And now the unedited version of Jason’s interview with NPR’s Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone for On the Media.


Brooke: Oh, he’s cruel isn’t he?


Jason: Oh, don’t you know that teasing is a sign of affection?


Brooke: How’s my level to you? Are you comfortable with it?


Jason: You sound fantastic, just when I have you in my IPod.


Brooke: And is your last name pronounced Cala-canis?


Jason: CalacanIs.


Brooke: CalacanIS. You mean the emphasis on the ISS?


Jason: No, I don’t think so necessarily. Calacanis. Ca-la-can-is. Yeah.


Brooke: So I’m gonna go ahead, thank you so much for your email responses. They were really great.


Jason: Did you get my tone? From the email?


Brooke: Yes, I think that the tone is really, really clear. You nailed it, you proved my point.


Jason: Certain people come across well in emails and some don’t.


Brooke: Yeah, I think it’s a talent, just like any other writing talent, you need to understand the medium you’re writing for.


Jason: Yeah, and actually my public relations person when they gave me those responses back I was able to approve that in just ten seconds. It was just obvious that they had done a great job positioning…


Brooke: An important part of management is hiring the right people.


Jason: And delegating… Absolutely, absolutely, I mean it actually did sound like something I would say. Which is absolutely fantastic.


Brooke: I think we’re ready to go, do I have thumbs up in there? Okay. Im gonna read you this intro.


Tyler: Hold on one sec.


Brooke: Thanks so much for doing this.


Jason: My pleasure.


Brooke: I have to wait?


Tyler: Jason did you happen to ask them if they could record a copy for you?


Jason: I did, but nobody responded so I don’t know if people were getting coffee? Okay, beautiful we’re recording a copy.


Tyler: Great.


Brooke: So, hopefully this wont go more than say ten or fifteen minutes, but we’ll give it a shot right now and I’ll begin with this intro. This week after Jimmy Carter was quoted as saying that president Bush was the worst president in history, the former president said on the today show that is comments were quote careless or misinterpreted. The journalist for the Arkansas democratic gazette countered back by posting a recording to prove that the quotation was not taken out of context, but journalists aren’t the only ones making sure they have a copy of the full interview an increasing number of interviewees are demanding to have a full transcript to post on their websites should there be a dispute after an articles publication. Jason Calacanis, co-founder of Web Blogs Inc. is one such interviewee. He recently wrote, journalist have been burning subjects for so long with paraphrased quotes, half quotes and misquotes that I think a lot of folks especially the ones who don’t need the press are taking an email-only interview policy. Jason, thanks welcome to the show.


Jason: Thanks for having me, I’m a big fan.


Brooke: So, do you subscribe to an e-mail only policy yourself?


Jason: I try to do it by email or instant message for both the reasons that you stated. It comes out more accurate. I feel like I don’t get misquoted, but also because it’s more convenient for me when I’m on the road and traveling and it’s more convenient cause I can republish the interview in its entirety to my core constituents at my Blog and get some content out of it.


Brooke: Have you been burned by reporters yourself?


Jason: I’ve been burned, yeah, pretty regularly. I think anybody who is quoted on a regular basis has either been misquoted, half quoted or you know generally burned. And I think it has to do in a lot of ways with how journalism has turned into entertainment. A lot of journalists are looking for that gotcha-moment and having me live on the phone gives them that ability to try to catch me up in something and I really am not interested in being caught up. I would rather have the really well thought out answer given to a journalist than some quick spontaneous one that maybe doesn’t represent me properly.


Brooke: Well there are a lot of bad journalists out there, but obviously not all of them are terrible. A lot of journalists, and I’m one of them, think that a great deal can be lost when interviews and when answers are scripted rather than spontaneous and there is that human factor. There’s a lot of information conveyed in the tone of voice, don’t you agree?


Jason: I agree there’s information in the tone of voice, you can hear mine now, but you can also see that in email when you read it by using asterisks around certain words for emphasis, a dramatic pause, and ellipsis and M-dash, I’m a journalist as well, former journalist and now entrepreneur, so you can convey things in writing, maybe not everybody can do that as well, but not everybody is as good at talking on the phone as writers so you can have spontaneity over email. You can have long exchanges, long wonderful exchanges. I’ve had exchanges that are ten thousand words with journalists so as a journalist are in interested in my quick ten-second response to something? In some cases yes. Or would you rather have my really well thought out thoughts over a ten, twenty email exchange thread over email. I think if you’re interested in the truth and really getting to the core of the matter, maybe the long considered responses are better.


Brooke: I think everybody loves to read a New Yorker article more than some tiny little one second summation in some other medium, but the fact of the matter is that every medium has different space requirements and I think it’s not realistic and maybe not ever fair to the news consumer to say you know if you want me you can only have me in long, long, long bits I mean it’s obviously its your choice if you wanna do that, but there is something lost because it isn’t really how most people consume the news.


Jason: Is it fair to only use one sentence of what I say when I give you ten paragraphs? I mean that’s also unfair, so I think that like many different versions of the truth: there’s your version, my version and the actual version. And I think what’s happened because of this recent flair up with me and another journalist from Wired is that this discussion has started, it’s been picked up in a bunch of different places and some new ground rules are getting set, so the way I was able to settle the discussion with the Wired journalist, we agreed that we would record our phone conversation. I published the entirety of that MP3 on my Podcast and I transcribed it, so my constituents can get my full thoughts over 30-40 minutes and those people who want to read the three hundred word version with maybe twelve of my words, can read it there. So everybody’s happy, so there is definitely a balance between it, but I think Journalists are reaping what they’ve sewn frankly. They’ve gone for the cheap aggressive misquote and in a lot of cases, not all, but in a lot of cases and if you talk to someone, but in a lot of cases if you talk to subjects, they feel like a lot of times it’s a gotcha moment and journalists are trying to create drama maybe where there isn’t drama because they’re trying to get ratings and you know that more than anybody based on the topic of this show.


Brooke: Obviously that is a widely held and justified complaint made about the media, but I’m not only the host of this program, I also edit it. I sometimes edit people like MAD. We’ve agreed that you will post the long version of this interview on your site. What our listeners will hear is a short version that was essentially edited down to what I consider to be it’s most important, most cogent moments. You say you’re a fan of the show. Now every editor is bad, a lot of editors can actually boil things down to their elements so that people can get the most out of the hour they’re listening to.


Jason: And you know the problem is editors like yourself are few and far between…. But I would challenge you to why wouldn’t you publish the full versions for those people who wanted to go in depth if somebody listened to this and said you know I’d really like to hear what those guys said for the full 20-30 minutes we wound up talking, why wouldn’t you do that, it would cost you nothing. You could do it in 10 seconds, have an engineer put it over there and that I think is really when you sort of check mate the journalist. Why wouldn’t you expose your source material, why wouldn’t you expose the email threads. I think more transparency in journalism would be a good thing. Maybe only ten percent of people will do it, but it will be greater - a really greater understanding of these very complex subjects. Why wouldn’t you? That’s my question to you?


Brooke: I think it’s a really good question and part of it has to do with process. Sometimes we will ask a question half a dozen times before the person we’re interviewing actually gives us the answer.


Jason: The answer that you’re looking for?


Brooke: The answer, the real answer to the question.


Jason: In your interpretation? You are selecting and you’re asking the question over and over again, while the subject has probably answered it the first time the way they wanted to. You are making the determination that you need the second, third, fourth question. Why can’t the audience be intelligent enough to hear all four times you’ve asked?


Brooke: Well, I suppose the audience could listen to all four times we’ve asked, but as a former journalist, surely you know that a lot of our job involves asking difficult questions. Questions that people don’t want to answer, but can be convinced to answer over time and it is our job to act as the reader or listener or viewer surrogate to get the answers that presumably we have to assume that they want. That’s why we’re in the jobs we’re in.


Jason: And absolutely. In that circumstance, I agree with you. Asking five times and putting the person on the spot absolutely kudos to you. I would like to hear the first four times and hear the person you know try to skirt the answer. I would like to hear the full process, I’m a fan of this show, you produce the show once a week, 50, 51 minutes. I wouldn’t mind getting the source material especially on a subject I’m passionate about. There’s nothing to lose and when journalists say to me whatever it’s process, that to me sounds like maybe they want to cover their tracks a little bit, maybe they’re afraid of what would happen if the raw transcript, came out.


Brooke: Fair enough, fair enough. We talk a lot on this show about how the sausage is made, that’s what the program tried to reveal, and we have done pieces actually about our own editing process. What we’ll be doing now is an exercise in exactly that, but you’re right, sometimes we find that showing the process is actually a distraction from the information that we’re providing and yeah we’d rather not have it shown.


Jason: In your interpretation it’s a distraction. I think that maybe you’re underestimating the audience, I am one of your listeners and you are greatly underestimating my ability to understand your process. I think journalists are a little pretentious in that matter and perhaps public radio ones are the most where they think that their editing ability trumps my ability as a listener to interpret this or understand what I’m doing, I’m not an idiot, people are very intelligent, they understand what you’re doing, they understand when you ask the fifth time the question that you’re trying to get an answer that you didn’t get the first four times, we’re not idiots, we’re your fans, I’m a fan of the show. Give me the raw material.


Brooke: So you’re not suggesting that we provide the raw interviews in the hour, but that we post them online.


Jason: Yes, you drag and drop them in ten seconds and give them to the audience. It would cost you nothing. And it would greatly improve your product and in fact you should put it out under creative commons and let us the users edit it and make our own version of what it looks like.


Brooke: That seems to me like actually I can’t imagine doing that, I can’t imagine giving that to somebody else. This is material the whole thing yes, but to have it edited in a million ways that way we would be exposing ourselves to what you say everyone we interview in exposed to well I regard myself as being responsible.


Jason: So your version of the truth is the one that we all have to experience. I can’t edit your raw material and make my version of it? Why not? As long as the users understand it, why shouldn’t they be able to.


Brooke: I think if the users want to hear the whole thing that is a fair question to ask us and something we probably would consider dropping and dragging here, but actually Jeff Jarvis has taken an interview of mine at one point and dropped me out of it and provided his our questions to the answers that a particular FCC commissioner provided as long as it’s stated fully and completely that it’s been manipulated for artistic or editorial reasons, I think I would be ok with that, but I wanna go back for a moment and…


Jason: I like the way you use the term manipulated when Jeff Jarvis does it and edited when you do it. Interesting language.


Brooke: I believe that Jeff Jarvis would concede himself that he was doing it for editorial reasons and I also want to defend public radio in general, it certainly isn’t the only journalistic medium that uses editors. Every responsible and even irresponsible media organization uses editors because the point is to cull through and provide information in easily digested ways. If you are a news junkie and you want to go online and watch the whole thing probably someday all of this stuff will be available in its full and complete form because people like you will post them.


Jason: I am not objecting to you editing it, I am a fan of the show and I love the way you edit it in fact. I wouldn’t want a 17- hour version of a topic. In most cases I would want the fifty one, but in most cases I would want the source material and that’s really my point is why wouldn’t you provide the source material, if we all start providing the source material then you can take an interview from another radio network where they didn’t use a piece of it and maybe say you know what Calacanis said something that contradicts something he said in this interview, I’m gonna play that for him and we could have this whole Creative Commons archive of information and greater understanding and I think journalists need to sort of understand that they’re not in control of the process anymore. I’m gonna put this full interview out there and if you edit this to the full level where it doesn’t make sense or if you misrepresent me you’re gonna get called out on it because one of my readers will say hey listen she edited you down to the point of which your best points didn’t make sense. Now I’ve got a safe guard against you doing that, and journalists have controlled the medium for too long and it’s resulted in I think journalism becoming sort of weirdly left, weirdly right and it’s not what it used to be.


Brooke: I don’t know that it ever was what it used to be Jason although I have to agree with you however that journalists have to admit that they have lost control of the process and what used to be dictation has now become a conversation whether we like it or not. This discussion we’ve had has gone on for about fifteen minutes. We will edit this down the way that we always do to about five minutes. Tops. And I’m sure that a good percentage of your listeners will feel that your best points were left off the table. Actually I can’t remember a single time where anybody we’ve interviewed and every interview goes on for at least fifteen minutes usually a half an hour and gets edited down to six has even complained. But I would be really interested in reading a brief letter in full in a week if you don’t like what we did with it.


Jason: You know what? I trust you. That’s the only reason I would have even come here. I would do the interview with or without you guys giving me the MP3 file to publish cause I’m a fan of the show so at the end of the day you earn the trust that people have in you and I think you guys do a great job of earning the trust.


Brooke: Jason, thank you very much.


Jason: My pleasure.


Brooke: Jason Calacanis is co-founder of Web Logs Inc. and the GM of Netscape.


Jason: Not anymore actually, I left AOL. This is why we need editing. I am currently an entrepreneur and residence and Sequoia capital. I left AOL in November.


Brooke: Okay, I’ll try that again. Actually, can you say that to me one more time? I don’t have a pen here.


Jason: You can just say, I’m an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.


Brooke: Jason Calacanis is an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at the…oh GOD DAMNIT! Bring me a pen please! I can’t remember more than four words at a time. Unless I’m making them up.


Jason: I have all this unedited, I’ve got the mistake, the producer made a huge mistake doesn’t even know I left my job six months ago and I’ve got it all on record, you guys are fumbling around. This is gonna be great. What does this do to the reputation of NPR that you guys don’t even know where I work?


Brooke: I hope it only shows that we’re human and moreover let me say for the record that NPR distributes our program but really refuses to take any other responsibility for it.


Jason: Well WNYC….


Brooke: Well they’re used to taking flack for what we do.


Jason: No doubt. No doubt.


Brooke: Entrepreneur-In-Residence at the venture capital firm, what?


Jason: Sequoia Capital.


Brooke: Sequoia Capital. Ok now I’m gonna read it again because this is the part that’s going to end up in our interview. Jason Calacanis is…sorry….Jason Calacanis is the co-founder of Web Logs Inc. and an Entrepreneur is res…. plllllssssttt…you’ll have that on tape too.


Jason: This is getting good! I’m not taking your confidence here. Did I get to you guys:?


Brooke: Let me tell you the horrible truth. Is that I’m always like this.


Jason: Oh boy, you know what I take everything back. You shattered my image; I just want to listen to the polished version!


Brooke: You see! That’s how we feel! Jason Calacanis is co-founder of Web Logs Inc. and Entrepreneur-In-Residence at the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. You can find a link at onthemedia.org on Jason’s Blog where he’ll post unedited versions of our email and audio interview. You’ll hear that all cut down all neatly that nobody will know that I fall over myself all the time.


Jason: No problem, and nobody will ever know at the fact checking at onthemedia is sub-par! Joking. I’m joking!


Brooke: We fact check!


Jason: Yes, fact-check in real time!


Brooke: We fact check by letting the people hear the Ins & the Outs & the Intros…


Jason: Hey it’s more than you can say for the New York Times. I’m busting you, I’m in a unique position as a journalist and a radio person and a person whose done TV to really poke fun of the process I mean compare your process to doing live news. If this was live news I wouldn’t even be able to call the person out on the air and say like oh you don’t even know my title? Come on! You book people… you don’t even know where they work? You can really give people a hard time and now I’ve got all this on MP3 shatter the image of onthemedia being in the know. But you know what? This is the reality isn’t it? We are fallible. And you know we are loosey-goosey and medias loosey-goosey it’s the way it’s going, it’s going to a casual medium and so the whole veil of being so polished it’s over. It’s good! You wanna be under that scrutiny forever? You can’t like make a mistake?


Brooke: But Jason, fundamentally the fact that we got where you’re working now wrong and we’re able to fix it because that’s how we do things here is not all that important in the long run as long as it’s fixed!


Jason: I don’t know about that. If I knew that like, it’s hey one little easy mistake, lets say you had like seven mistakes during this program, you have like eight things wrong? I would want to know. And that kind of stuff is fixed a lot in media, you know?


Brooke: It would indicate something very serious, I think the fact that we got your say current place of work wrong or that we were out of date or we used a wrong bio for you that we found online and we checked it is par for the course. The only difference is that Marc probably should have asked you in advance, but when we know we can check it here we frequently don’t because it’s not important as long as we get it right.


Jason: No I’m just saying lets say there was hypothetically seven errors on the program or eight errors on the program, you laugh but I’ve talked to other journalists who will make seven, eight mistakes in a conversation I’m like did you even read my blog? Like you’re interviewing me and you’re, you don’t even know that AOL was merged with Time-Warner, I mean how do you not know that these companies are together? You laugh, but there are people who are that clueless in journalism and I think this process and this sort of scrutiny is what’s gonna bring journalism back to a higher standard and you guys are already at the higher standard so maybe you don’t appreciate it but man I have to talk to people who are knuckle-heads on a very regular basis in journalism and I am just in shock I’m like, I mean, I met Jason Blair the day he started at the New York Times. And the first thing he said to me on the phone is I know you cover Silicone Alley and the whole beat. I’m gonna get you great coverage, just give me the inside scoop on stuff I’m really gonna represent you well. I’m like oh my god this guys making me a deal to make me look good if I feed him information. I can’t believe what’s happening at the New York Times, sure enough.


Brooke: Well I guess we’re just going to have to stand by our corrected mistake over here and say buy it, we shall to judged.


Jason: We all make mistakes.


Brooke: Jason take care!


Jason: Alright, thanks for having me I love the show.


Brooke: Buh bye.


Jason: Cheers.

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