Thursday, August 20, 2009

News Media Presses to Keep Public Speeches Public

WASHINGTON, D.C. - JANUARY 20:  White House Pr...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

"Off the record," "not for attribution," "background," "deep background." The lexicon employed by journalists in their dealings with news sources is increasingly muddled and meaningless in the blogosphere and Twitterville.

Still, the Sunshine in Government Initiative has rallied print and broadcast journalists in Washington, D.C. and nationwide to attempt to eliminate the growing trend of government officials couching their remarks in public forums as "off the record."

More than 6,800 journalists sent a letter to more than 600 press secretaries within Congress and the Obama Administration calling for an end to the practice of going off the record in the presence of large audiences. The Daily Gallery, Radio-Television and Periodicals Congressional press galleries backed the letter. Signatories include The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, the Society for Professional Journalists. American Society of News Editors, and Radio-Television Correspondents' Association.

Aimed principally at federal agency and Congressional staffers, the initiative believes "background" briefings should be confined to one-on-one settings between a reporter and a government news source designed to encourage transparency in the daily operations of government.

By the way, this post is on "extremely deep background," so you can't use it.
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