Updates: Wired’s Fred Vogelstein posts the entire email exchange he had with Jason on this topic. (Fred didn’t write the item to which I linked above.) Also, it’s worth noting that the world “cowardly” is in the headline, and the rest of the Wired piece essentially makes fun of the situation, and not in a mean-spirited way. But the headline is plain nasty, and what I was referring to as thin-skinned.
I don’t mind doing interviews by phone (or in person) but an email exchange has an advantage for the interviewee: I can post the entire exchange and let people judge for themselves. And, as one of the commenters on Jason’s posting notes, email interviews allow the interviewee to write part of the story. The commenter thinks this is a bad idea. I don’t.
Here is a fact, and I say it with regret after almost 25 years of professional journalism experience. Almost every article gets something wrong, from the source’s perspective. Typically it’s not a remotely crucial point, just a tiny one. I’ve been treated pretty well, I should add. Only once can I remember a reporter (apparently) deliberately misconstruing (or outright making up) what I’d said. There’s no doubt that the overwhelming majority of journalists try very hard to get things right, and for the most part do so. But little mistakes or misinterpretations are common, even when they’re basically harmless.
Every journalist should have the experience of being covered by journalists. Nothing would improve the craft more.