Jessica Lessin: On the Information and How We Operate

Jessica Lessin:

Mr. Graham’s said that the reason for the interview was for a profile of his wife, which we published. That is true. But it is only half the story.

The on-the-record interview covered significantly more topics than we could include in the profile of Ms. Livingston. It was more than two hours. Given the unusual length and breadth of the interview, we decided to publish it as a story.

But we didn’t spring it on him. Quite the opposite. We notified Mr. Graham and his PR person and went the extra mile and refreshed their memory on some of the topics. No one expressed any objection.

The lesson: if you’re speaking to a journalist on-the-record, treat everything you say as part of a carefully considered interview — never a casual, off-the-cuff conversation. If you’re speaking off-the-cuff, make sure you emphasize the entire conversation is off-the-record before it starts. And be sure to clarify that both sides agree on what “off-the-record” means.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014