Journalists love interviewing people. Well, love may be the wrong word, but they have to interview people because it’s their job. But personally, I love it. I love asking people questions and it is even more fun when we have to haggle with them to get answers. But what if the tables are turned and the journalist is being interviewed? Will they be more than willing to give full answers like how they expect their interviewees to give?
Washington Post’s media reporter, Paul Farhi, recently wrote about how tough it is to interview people (specifically journalists) because they tend to be too cautious. We’re all familiar with the ‘off the record’ statements so willingly given by people who don’t want to grant actual interviews. And Farhi goes on to explain another term – ‘talking on background’.
So basically, ‘off the record’ means that the statement or explanation cannot be published in the story. But a journalist can use the information as a lead to go deeper and research a story. And, ‘talking on background’ basically means that the information and statement can be used but the source or interviewee cannot be named. The worse, of course, is when an interviewee says ‘no comment’.
I’ve been interviewed many times and, just as I like being interviewed, I like to be interviewed too. But hey, I get the point of interviewees to want to control the information they give out. I just feel that it is in the way you answer rather than just declining to do so.