- Apr 29, 2013
- Reaction score
- Member of
- SCI, NRA Life Member
- Namibia, Canada (BC, SK, Nunavut & NWT), US (Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, New Mexico, NY, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, & Washington)
I learned a long time ago to NEVER talk to a reporter. No good ever comes from talking to a reporter!
I have to agree and disagree with you at the same time.
I have talked with a lot of reporters in my career. It has generally been a positive experience and I have become friends with several of them. (I have only been misquoted a couple of times.) For the most part, the reporters that I have dealt with have been intelligent professionals trying to do their job to the best of their abilities.
I have a few rules that I try to follow. First, unless they prove otherwise, reporters deserve to be treated with respect. Second, I am particularly careful about what I say when dealing with a reporter for the first time. Third, if needed, I try to help them understand the subject better. Fourth, never, repeat never, talk to them "off the record". You have to assume that they will honor that condition only as long as it is beneficial to them (or conversely, until not honoring it will help them and their career). Fifth, I pick my words very carefully, considering how each statement would look if featured in a story on the front page of their publication (or website). Sixth, I keep in mind that they are probably on a tight deadline. Therefore, I return their calls as quickly as possibly. Seventh, If I don't know enough to comment, I simply tell them that. If I can, I will suggest someone else for them to contact.
Keep in mind that to some extent each of us has a streak of laziness in our personality. With that in mind, I know that the easier I make it for a reporter to use my view on a subject, the more likely it is that the story will come out the way I want it to. Once, I went so far as to write an article interviewing myself! I gave it to the reporter and and she submitted it unchanged and cheerfully took credit for it.
As I said above, I have a lot of experience with reporters. In the beginning I had the benefit of coaching and training. When I worked in a telco, I had a person from Public Relations as my "handler". It was her job to try to keep me out of trouble in media interviews. However, if you don't have any experience working with reporters, and if you don't have access to some kind of professional training or support, then the wisest (and safest) thing to do is to decline the interview.