December 3, 2008

Ground Rules for Interviews...

Bill McCloskey of the DC SPJ Pro chapter points out that the guidelines the State Department has for interviews are worth noting.

And these can be useful in setting the ground rules in all interviews.

Thanks Bill.

Ground Rules for Interviewing State Department Officials

Ground Rules
rules must be agreed upon at the beginning of a conversation or an
interview with State Department officials. The discussion should
proceed only after you and the officials are clear on exactly how the
information can be used or attributed.

On the Record
Information may be quoted directly and attributed to the official by name and title.

On Background
The official's remarks may be
quoted directly or paraphrased and are attributed to a “State
Department official” or “Administration official,” as determined by the

On Deep Background
The source cannot be quoted
or identified in any manner, not even as “an unnamed source.” The
information is usually couched in such phrases as “it is understood
that” or “it has been learned.” The information may be used to help
present the story or to gain a better understanding of the subject, but
the knowledge is that of the reporter, not the source. No information provided may be used in the story. The information is only for the reporter's background knowledge.

Off the Record
Nothing of what the journalist is
told may be used in the story. The information is meant only for the
education of the reporter.

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