Re: job interview question: ethical issues about portfolio

Subject: Re: job interview question: ethical issues about portfolio
From: ICorrino -at- cs -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002 00:09:15 EST

In a message dated 1/13/02 6:50:24 PM Eastern Standard Time, ICorrino -at- cs -dot- com

> On a related note -- I think I know the answer to this, but I'm just
> as to other people's opinions -- is it permissable to add new comments to
> editing sample? In other words, is it okay if, when assembling your
> portfolio, you come across some error you missed at the time, to correct
> Or should the portfolio represent your work exactly as you did it for the
> company?

I've gotten a couple of messages asking for clarification on where I was
coming from with this question, so just to elaborate: I used to be a
newspaper reporter, and in journalism it's generally frowned upon to alter
samples of your published articles. And though it may sound like that's not
possible, people do it. Often a published article will have some flaw --
sometimes the reporter's error, sometimes one introduced by an editor -- and
there's a temptation to reprint a headline, or to try to mask errors in other
ways, such as dabbing a bit of whiteout on an unneeded comma or splicing in a
paragraph that was inadvertantly cut. Then when you photocopy it, it's
impossible to tell that the article was tampered with. I never did this, but
I know people who did, and who probably still do. Anyway, I think among most
journalists these techniques are considered unacceptable. I guess taking out
a comma wouldn't be too egregious, but when you present a copy of a published
article and label it as having appeared on page 1 of The New York Times (or
wherever it appeared -- it's standard to label your clips with that kind of
info: publication date, page placement, etc.) the article should appear to
the potential employer as it appeared to the public on that day, in that

On the other hand, it *is* acceptable, if you're not happy with the published
version of a story, to send a computer printout of your original work and
explain that, for whatever reason, you weren't happy with the way the article
appeared in print, or to simply say that you wanted the interviewer to see
your "raw copy." I did that a few times.

So anyway .. that's my context, but daily journalism is obviously different
from technical writing, and I have no idea what the conventions are in this
business, which is why I raised the question. So.. any input is appreciated.


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