Friday, November 16, 2012

Recording News Interviews Is In The Public Interest

In today's Ragan PR Daily, Gill Rudawsky talks about videotaping news interviews, which he calls a "useful tactic for PR." His discussion is interesting and focuses on the impact and negative reaction of journalists and the potential pitfalls. He also provides very useful reference sources, especially with regard to the legalities of recording conversations. Two of the three comments posted before mine were negative and made suspect the motives for this tactic.
Actually, I believe it is crucial to record news interviews. What do reporters have to hide by objecting? For years, I have recommended audio recording of interviews, which are then transcribed and the audio and the transcription are made available to all stakeholders on a website.
I generally reserve video recording for controversial or contentious stories.  It’s the same deal: transcribe and put both up on a website. I do strongly recommend that story release deadlines always be honored.
The rationale? Organizations spend enormous amounts of time fussing, fretting and preparing for interviews where the only audience is the reporter. Then a story is fabricated from these conversations and presented to an audience that only sees the final product. Why withhold the ingredients of a story?
The investment of time, energy, resources and distraction should be made available to the largest audience possible, if only to truly justify the investment. Sharing the information widely lets those affected make up their minds.  They have useful information which they deserve to know anyway. Why should a reporter -- a stranger -- have more information than an employee?
If a reporter is abusive, accusatory or bullying, that should be made available. If your spokesperson flubs, stumbles, mumbles and bumbles, that should be shown as well.
This is one of the great conundrums of journalism.  They produce their product in great secrecy and expect the public not to ask what was left out. This behavior is one of the most obvious reasons legacy media are having such difficulty. The more secrecy there is, the more people believe that what is reported is mostly made up.
One of the greatest benefits of social media is the opportunity for many to view the same set of reported events and provide alternative perspectives.
It's called transparency. And today’s journalism needs a big inoculation to help stem the relentless incremental corrosion of public trust and credibility. 
By James E. Lukaszewski

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