Take Advantage of “off the record”

via marklamberti.com

via marklamberti.com

That may sound a bit obtuse, but I do it all the time.

It’s a give and take, when it comes to sources and using “off the record.”   You have to play the game and they know it through and through. Make sure you use it to your advantage.

I use it all the time to get additional background and information out of sources to better understand what I’m writing about. What you hear from board and council members during meetings isn’t the same thing you’ll hear 10 minutes after those meetings end. It’s a whole different world, in many aspects.

“Off the record” is just a great tool. It lets you open up to sources and vice versa . It gets you scoops and lets you be honest with the people you cover.

Off the record or not, you still have to keep a guard up. I only seriously trust a handful or more of my consistent sources. You cannot be made a fool of. It’s crucial to be aware of that, as well.

Everyone likes a good scoop, so it’s in a reporter’s best interest to at least try to get sources to talk “off the record.” In many ways, I think sources like it, too.

It gives them an opportunity to put their guard down and speak plainly.

Many times, you’ll have stories full of boring, dull quotes on a really hot topic and it’s frustrating. If you can get some information off the record for the story, you can adjust your questions to try to get people to, hopefully, spice up questions to spice the story up. It’s easier said than done, but it’s always worth a try.

And always remember that nothing is every truly off the record.



One Response to Take Advantage of “off the record”

  1. Pingback: Open Phone Calls? | Just Starting Out

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