Is Anything “Off the record”?

As I mentioned in my previous post regarding the WebEx initiative in community, I’m not a professional journalist. I haven’t gone through the classes and instructions which tell you what “off the record” means. Wikipedia says this:

Off the record is a term used mainly in journalism to refer to information given to a journalist, where the identity of the source is to be protected, but the information can be used. However, some journalists use the term to mean that the information cannot be used.

Mokund questioned what it really meant to be “off the record,” too. Although, in his recount of the WebEx conflict at Community 2.0, he stated I wrote things in my post which Diane had said were “off the record.” In fact, she did ask me to leave things out of my writing, which I gladly did. But, the minute she asked for that, I started to question what it really meant.

Do we, as bloggers, need to abide by the journalistic standards? They are great standards. Their goal is to hopefully retain some sense of dignity and justice in writing.

Then again, we’re bloggers, not journalists. I’m not paid to be dignified, nor just. Most blogs, because they’re written by the Average Joe and Jane, are editorials and opinion pieces. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen something held from “the record” in an op-ed piece. Of course, I wouldn’t know it if it were, but still.

One of the questions that this digs into is whether bloggers are, or should be, considered journalists, or at least in the same realm. There has been a ton of talk on the subject before. But, I haven’t run across any yet which answer the question of “the record.”

I’m curious what your take is on it. Would you mind helping me work through this issue? I think it’s pertinent to not only what I write, but what you write too – blogs just being websites, and most of us write something on a website every now and then.

[tags]community, journalism, webex, community[/tags]

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

3 Comments on "Is Anything “Off the record”?"

  1. I think that bloggers don’t need to be restricted other than their own conscious. They are not representing a larger organization, however your employer may think so, and are not sharing their personal experiences and opinions.

    The only thing that should restrict a blogger from sharing his opinion is his/her own thoughts of that opinion. If they want to be offensive or want to be polite and not share then by all means do. However, if they don’t then by all means don’t.

  2. nate says:

    That’s an outstanding point Aaron. Being true to yourself and your own thoughts and ideas is what the freedom of speech protects.

  3. I would make one amendment to that statement. However, my amendment is limited by the writer’s own conscious.

    If you say you won’t write something then you shouldn’t again that’s relative to one’s conscious. There may be some legal implications but still up to the writer.

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