Banish “off the record” briefings

A movement among U.S. media organizations and journalists seeks “to end the practice whereby officials insist their remarks remain ‘off the record’ at large public events,” reports  Editors Weblog.

It excerpts a column by Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander:

“Standing in front of 300 people and declaring your words to be ‘off-the-record’ is frustrating for reporters, but it’s also silly,” Rick Blum, a coordinator for the advocacy group Sunshine in Government Initiative, told Alexander. “With Twitter, blogs and old-style e-mail, the lobbyists, bloggers and other opinion-shapers in the audience will repeat your words a thousand different ways before you step off the podium. But a reporter who respects the traditional rules of the road can’t report what you say to a broader audience.”

As Editors Weblog notes:

“When newspapers allow public officials to dictate what gets reported and in what way, it is not just the journalists who are affected. It also makes the newspaper less credible to readers. Reporters are supposed to be the ones holding the government accountable for its actions, but that becomes impossible if these same reporters agree to only release the information the government wants to be publicized. In today’s age of Twitter and citizen journalists, is it really possible to insist on ‘off the record’ conversations anyway?”

Canadians, imo, should get on this bandwagon.