Thursday 20 August 2009

US media urges end to 'off the record' briefings

A joint letter from a group representing US news and journalism organisations, including the New York Times, has been sent to 600 press officers urging them to stop the practice of "off the record" briefings, according to an exclusive report in Editor & Publisher.
The Sunshine in Government Initiative, which is coordinating the protest, said the letter is an effort to stop the anonymous briefings that often limit how reporters can attribute information.
"Many Congressional staff members and mid-level administration officials, regardless of party affiliations, have been increasingly wary of speaking on the record in recent years and, as a result, begin their public speeches by telling the audience that their remarks are all 'off the record'," the campaigners say.
Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, said: "In today's age of Twitter and blogs, an 'off-the-record' speech will be publicised, just not by reporters. It just doesn't make sense anymore and the practice should stop."
In an interview with the Guardian in June, Foreign Secretary David Miliband called on the media to abandon unattributable briefings, saying all politicians' spokesmen should be named, or not quoted by media outlets.

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