Dynamist Blog

This Is Just a Routine Investigation

Reliable sources inform me that the NYT's absurd disclosure form for freelancers no longer applies to the Book Review or magazine.

I have no problem with editors asking lots of questions about possible conflicts as, indeed, the Book Review editors do. But most conflicts won't be caught by a one-time form, because they're either unanticipated or new. And expecting a freelancer to disclose every connection under the sun just to do a single article is ridiculous. (Is it relevant to a book review on development economics that I once gave a speech at Target? It is relevant, of course, if the author of the book is a close friend, but the form doesn't ask you to list everyone you know.) The whole venture strikes me as a way for editors to cover themselves--"Well, he didn't mention it on his disclosure form"--when scandal erupts.

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