Monday, February 14, 2011

Off The Record

The following comes from Chuck Ross of TV Week:

"Last month, when it became known that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was going to be taking another leave of absence, Time Warner's Fortune magazine ran a story with information that heretofore had not been public: that Jobs had been treated for cancer in Switzerland in 2009.

Now, it's not a secret that Jobs has had cancer. But this particular information had not been made public by Jobs or anyone else. The article in Fortune said the author of the article had been told this information off-the-record by a source. The source had subsequently died, so the information was no longer off-the-record, the article said."


So here's my question. What do you think "off the record" means? Do you think there are any limitations to that? When should something move from being "off the record" to being "on the record?" If the "off the record" source died, does that necessarily mean the information is fair game?

P.S. someone posted last week with the name "eld_school." If this is a classmate who wants points for the blog, you'll have to let me know who you are. There is no way i can guess who "eld_school" refers to.

19 comments:

Brandon L. Atkison said...

When I hear “off the record” I associate it with something that is confidential, and the person disclosing the information does not want it published. When someone discloses information “off the record” it does not mean they will not talk and express their concerns. It means that they do not want their concerns or viewpoints published in case it is used inappropriately. The media can still take what is said and publish it, but cannot disclose who gave the information. I do not believe that a piece of information should ever be able to move from “off the record” to “on the record” without consent or an in-depth research be conducted. We do not know if the source of information is even credible. If a source dies I believe you let the information die with that source and go search for another one. My suggestion would be to find a source that would be willing to go “on the record.”

sswog said...

What kind of ethics does this reporter have? They respected the unnamed source's wishes of "off the record" until the person died?! How can you keep something confidential for two years and then spill the beans as soon as they kick the bucket? Off the record is a term that people use in order to tell someone something, that should not be used as public information. Every journalist should know this, and should respect the term for what it is: OFF THE RECORD! Even thought the source died, I think it is disrespectful of the reporter to have used the information against their will. They may not be alive to fight the case, but good ethics would have told the reporter to confirm the information from a different source before making Jobs' cancer public information.

SarahLear said...

To me the phrase "off the record" means things said in an interview or other conversation aren't to used in a story or repeated at all honestly. Sometimes I think people say things off the record that they don't necessarily want published but helps make some other point more clearly understood. One might tell a story that helps convey what he meant by some statement he made but doesn't want anything about that story published. I've never personally been in an interview where the "off the record" statement has been an issue but I imagine in the course of a conversation things get talked about that the person simply doesn't want to leave that conversation.
People say things off the record because what they say might not be worded 100% correctly and could later be taken out of context. It might mean something to the interviewer and in the particular conversation, but if they are quoted as having said something it could be brought up later in a different context and make them look bad.
It's very easy for things to be taken out of context and people have to realize that when interviewing or being interviewed. So if people aren't sure about how something might later be taken or interpretted they choose to say it "off the record".
It also applies to confidential things, such as something the interviewer already knows or heard and asks the person about. They might give a partial answer or none at all but if it's a confidential matter it's usually "off the record".
In most cases though, I think "off the record" applies to something that a person doesn't mind talking about but simply doesn't want published. And if something is said "off the record" there are no exceptions to that. I'm not sure about limitations, I suppose it would just depend on the circumstance, but when regarding someone's health that's definitely their own business and if they died then I would suggest it be their family member's choice on what information to disclose.

Shelly said...

The term, "off the record" is well known to be information given to someone that they did not want published or leaked to other sources. I think that when someone says that the information is meant to be "off the record", it is told in strict confidence that the information will be kept confidential at all times. Information that is classified as "off the record" could be information that hasn't been verified by the source.
In the medical field, if a patient tells the medical professionals information--it is information that is to be held confidential at all costs. The information is not changed to public record after the patient dies, so in the case of information changing from "off the record" to "on the record", I don't agree. If a person wanted the information available to other people, than it never would have been "off the record" to begin with. I think that the reporter who leaked this information violated a code of ethics.

DSEELEY said...

I believe that "off the record" means just that it is to kept private and not published. In todays society most reports that are published are recorded to preserve them, and with the sufistication in recording devices sometimes a person dosen't even know he/she is being recorded. This takes the "off the record" to a new standard, meaning that if this recording gets misplaced the "off the record" is then dependent on who gets possession of the tape. When an "off the record" source dies, and the reporter that has the information is also about to die, the "off the record should at least be reported but this is the only time.

eld_school said...

The phase "off the record" is used to describe information that a person does not want used by a reporter. The reporter should never use information. However, why tell a reporter information that you do not want to be use. Keep the information to yourself. Once a reporter has heard the information it is hard not to include or reference the information. As for the example in the blog, the reporter had honored his agreement with the person who had requested that the information be "off the record" and I belive that the agreement should continue to be "off the record." That information was given to the reporter and no one else. It is not okay for anyone else to make it public. One must be careful what is said "off the record" because there are no guarantees that the information will remain "off the record."

Sasha said...

If something is "off the record," it is "off the record." You gave your word that you would not release this information because of some reason, therefore it should not be released.
One reason why "off the record" information should not be released is because it could harm or hurt someone especially if the information needs to be kept quite. By that indiviuals releasing that information about Mr Jobs could have effected his business as well as his personal life.
Also, if the source who gave the information as "off the record" has past aways, it does not means that it is ok to release the information because as i stated earlier, it could be threatning to someone life or career. "Off the record should be kept "off the record."

ABilly said...

"Off the recordL" is not hard to understand, it means to kept out of the public statement. People say "off the record" to clarify a point of view or said to a reporter, for understanding why it can not be made public or misunderstood.

When a person dies the statement they made should not be changed from "off the record" to "on the record". Just because they died does not give permission to publish their "off the record" statement. It could be scrutinized the wrong way.

dgarrard said...

I think "off the record" means just what it says, the comment or information should not be recorded and presented to the public. Many reporters have many different interpretations of the phrase. Some will hold true the promise to keep the information secret and merely use it as a stepping stone to find more concrete evidence of a story. Others, however, say the content will be "off the record" just to get the source to devulge their information and then leak it in a round-about way. The only time that information should move from "off the record" to "on the record" is in a case of bodily harm or some other emergency that will require the involvement of some authoritative police body. Lastly, if the source dies, the information is still "off the record". It is a matter of ethics. If you want someone to leak information to you in the future respect the privacy of the present.

CAndrews said...

When I hear the quote “off the record” I feel that no one should know about it no matter if they died or if they are still alive. Anything noted for off the record means it stays off the record until notified further. Some people feel that “off the record” is only temporary and that they can put it on record anytime they feel like it and that is not the case. You will lose in the end and only embarrass yourself. I don’t think anything should move to “off the record” until said so by the person that wanted it “off the record”. It’s off the record for a reason because they didn’t want it to be announced to the public. It doesn’t matter if the off the record source died, it should be off the record because it was when it was said. Just like when a song is copyrighted and released by a singer and they die and the song is covered doesn’t mean anyone can just take it and release it and make money without paying the consequences. “Off the record” is “off the record” for a reason, it is said and explained as you say it, its not, “off the record, then tell” it’s off limits and not announced to everyone.

MattDemp said...

When I hear the term off the record,I think that interferes with their ability to tell the truth and may mislead the story to the media, and I think that the media need to get the sources right if they want to report it.

abuckhalter said...

"Off the Record" is a phrase that is frequently used. When I hear the phrase "Off the Record" I think of one of two things. One the information is confidential and shouldn't be publicized or two the information that is being said have not be proven to be true facts.

Many time celebrities personal confidential life is kept off the record until it has been leaked to the media by someone they trusted. When people request the information to be off the record, they do not want it published. Sometime people are repeating information that was heard and may not be sure if they are quoting the information correctly, many times they will say off the record to inform the listener that some of the information may be alter.

LMRowe said...

The word “off the record” means that certain information is confidential. If information is labeled “off the record” the public cannot view the information. I really do not think that there should be limitations on keeping something “off the record”. If the “off the record” source died, I don’t think that it is fair game. I think that same rules should apply even if the source as passed.

LMRowe said...

The word “off the record” means that certain information is confidential. If information is labeled “off the record” the public cannot view the information. I really do not think that there should be limitations on keeping something “off the record”. If the “off the record” source died, I don’t think that it is fair game. I think that same rules should apply even if the source as passed.

Naturallydelish said...

Off the record means exactly what the phrase implies. You are to keep that information from being published no matter how pertinent the information is. I can't see where there could be limitations for it. Once someone says it's off the record, that's it.

The only time that something should me moved from being "off the record" to being "on the record" is when the source specifically tells the person that they are ready for the information to be released or in the case of public safety. If the "off the record" source died, I do not think that the information is fair game. The information should be kept "off the record" out of respect, not just because someone wants to have a story or monetary gain.

JLafond said...

I think that off the record means that something is personal and it should be kept out of the media. Many high profile people try to keep their personal lives off the record despite their popularity. Everyone deserves the right to privacy, and the media shouldn’t publish things that they want to be kept secret. If the source dies, I still don’t think that the information should be public. In my opinion, that is the equivalent of harming a defenseless person.

However, in this age of technology, information spreads quickly and uncontrollably fast. If a particular person doesn’t want his or her information public, then it is best they keep it secret. Despite the fact that something may be off the record, it still may become public. Unfortunately, in this age that is something we have to deal with.

JG Hanks said...

As with many things, the term "off the record" has a sort of fluid definition. Just from a first impression, you would assume that it means information that is to be held out of a story. Then if a source wants to give you any information and does so "off the record", this information is to remain out of your story. Sounds simple right? However, when giving or receiving information "off the record", the parties involved should discuss beforehand the terms of use for said information. In the case of the source who died, how are we to know what their arrangement was? If the source and the reporter agreed that the information was fair game after the source died, then besides maybe a moral implication, nothing was done wrong. Of course there are limitations to anything, but with the practice of "off the record" basically being a gentleman's agreement between two people, sometime this practice can be abused. However, in this case, I'm not really sure that's what happened.

BGibson said...

Personally I think that "off the record" means the way that it sounds, which is something private and confidential. I think that being that this reporter made the statement "off the record" that we as the public should have never known what it was. When it comes to something as serious as health problems an individual should be able to determine whether or not they want the world to know. Therefore, they should keep this information to themselves especially during an interview. The person should never have told the reporter, because I think that reporters use information that should be "off the record" to enhance their job. Todays society is always eager to know the latest information on famous people whether good or bad.

The reporter who passed away should have never revealed this information, for it to be labeled "off the record". Even if the information was recorded, the person in charge should have thrown it away. Then again I blame the person who told the reporter, because you can not expect someone in your business to keep it to themselves. When the reporter died I think the information should have died as well, because it was the reporters information and no one else should be able to quote it.

CLiddell said...

Off-the- record is just that,it is information that was given in confidence and should not me used. It maybe information that is needed to clarify other information. Now if you are a reporter who isn't true to your journalism ethics, than you would probably use this information to rep reward. I think if the source of off the record information dies, the information doesn't have a limitation. Although they maybe dead, that information could affect his or her name or family.I believe sharing off-the-record information rests surely, with the person receiving the information. What kind of person they are. But, all in all it is just better to keep certain information to yourself if you don't ever want anyone to find out.