MetaMedia: On the record

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It is a reporter’s job to provide accurate information from knowledgeable sources, but sometimes a reporter receives information that the source doesn’t want at least one reader to know where it came from.

It is often called “off-the-record” information , meaning that a reporter cannot attribute information in a story to that source.

That information can be published, however, if another source provides it on the record or the off-therecord source can direct the reporter to documented confirmation.

Information considered off the record to one source may be publishable from another.

Off-the-record information has its place; it gives reporters background information, helps them figure out other questions to ask and ultimately leads them to other sources.

Sometimes a source needs to be protected, but these situations are seldom the case. Anonymity breeds suspicion and -encourages the decline of civility.

Take a look at the comments on any website.

Information discussed in a meeting open to the public is considered on the record and may be reported in a story.

Any statement made by a source to a reporter is considered on the record. If sources choose to speak off the record, they must say so and get the reporter’s agreement before they provide information they are unwilling to attach their names to.


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