Saturday, April 20, 2019

A to Z Challenge - R for Record, on and off

Theme - Journalism jargons
When a person, who speaks to a reporter, is willing to be quoted by name, then it can be said, "the person is on record", otherwise "off record".

When a quote or attribution is "on record", it carries more credibility, than when it's "off record".

Whether a person is willing to come on record or not depends on who the person is and what is spoken. A person might not be willing to come on record if she is talking about something sensitive and if she fears that disclosure of name might boomerang on her.

Well-known and reputed reporters are generally unwilling to use anonymous quotes. They do so only when the subject is of importance and when they believe their sources are credible.


Nowadays, it is very easy to record a face-to-face conversation or a phone conversation. It's wrong to record conversations without the speaker's permission. It's always better to check if the speaker is fine with the conversation being recorded. Because the person might want to speak off record.

In very rare cases, investigative journalists go undercover, and record (either video or audio) conversations. They do so only when the issue is of public importance.

(This post is a part of the "Blogging from A to Z Challenge April 2019".)


  1. I've learned in the United States that some states require consent from all involved parties while others are 'single consent', which I find fascinating. Be well and Happy Blogging!

  2. Thanks for the information. I was under the impression "off the record" means the information cannot be used in any fashion.

  3. What Darla said about recording conversations--sometimes all parties have to know the recording is happening for it to be legal. Of course, people do things illegally all the time. But I think reporters could be sued for using quotes that they did not have permission to use.

  4. @ Darla - Ok. That's an interesting piece of information. Thanks.

    @ Rajan - What is said to you 'off the record' can be used, but you can't reveal who said that.

    @ Liz - Yes, Liz. Reporters can land in trouble.

  5. In the approximately two dozen times I have been interviewed for a newspaper, there has never been a single time that my words were depicted correctly. They either took part of a sentence I said out of context or they completely misquoted me. I actually received death threats over one of them and I had not said what they claimed I did at all.

    I don't do interviews anymore.

    I am at Transformed Nonconformist. I usually write humor pieces, but I am getting serious this month. I'm writing about people who have deeply impacted my life.

  6. @ Brett - Journalists, undoubtedly, have to be careful. Sadly there are many instances of mistakes like the ones you have mentioned.
    Thanks a lot for dropping by and for the comments.