Becoming a Media Resource - Reporter's Rules

September 19, 2006

There are several commonly accepted rules reporters follow as part of conducting an interview that are important to keep in mind. Unless, you specifically state that something you say is not to be quoted, reporters will feel free to use any and all comments you make. Should you wish to make it clear that some of what you have to say should not be quoted, you'll need to know the media's terminology, as listed below.

  • On the record -- everything you say can be used and you can be quoted by name.
  • Not for attribution or on background -- you can be quoted, but not directly identified. You may be described in such phrases as a "top company official".
  • On deep background -- what you say should not be linked to you at all but rather asserted on the journalists own authority.
  • Off the record -- what you share cannot be used in any form except to guide the reporters thinking. This agreement is sometimes broken if a story becomes public or if the journalist finds other sources that will attest to it.

Note: If you say to a reporter, This is off the record, be sure the reporter agrees to it or you might be quoted.