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Posts Tagged ‘Stanley McChrystal’

What is Off the Record?

When we polled PRNewser readers this past April and asked if they go off the record with the media, 50% said, “Yes. It’s a great way to build relationships and help reporters,” while 25% said, “No way. It’s too risky for me, my clients, or my company.”

In a story in The Atlantic, NBC News chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd and managing editor for NBC News’ Washington bureau Albert Oetgen look into the differences between “off the record,” “on background” and “on the record.”

They often can mean different things to different people, and of course, that’s when trouble can arise, as it did for Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who lost his job after Rolling Stone feature story had him and his staff criticizing top White House officials, including the White House President.

Here’s how Pete Williams, the network correspondent covering the Justice Department and Supreme Court for NBC News described the terms:

There is ‘On The Record.’ Quoting verbatim with attribution: ‘Santa Claus is a fraud,’ said Pete Williams.”

“There is ‘On Background.’ You can use the information without attribution, or with generic attribution: ‘Santa Claus is a fraud,’ said a network correspondent.”

“There is ‘Off The Record.’ You know it, you can shop it around, act on it, but you can’t report it, until you get it somewhere else.”

“Where the thing begins to get hazy is around the idea of Deep Background, the shadowy territory between On Background and Off The Record: ‘NBC News has learned that some network correspondents think Santa Claus is a fraud.’”

Do you agree? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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On the Podcast: Larry King steps down; Press release buzzwords, and Politco’s Patrick Gavin

On our weekly podcast this morning, we discussed the end of Larry King’s long run on CNN, and what it means for PR. Next, we looked at a recent analysis of press releases revealing the most overused words–there are 161,000 “leaders” out there!

We then turned to Politico’s Patrick Gavin to find out more about what makes the publication’s newsroom tick.

Reporters are expected to know their beat on day one, have a personal brand and be incredibly fast. “Everyone [in D.C.] is fighting to post something or tweet something 15 seconds before the next person, and strangely that matters,” said the multimedia reporter and former editor of mediabistro’s FishbowlDC.


We asked Gavin about accusations from the media that a beat reporter would have reported the Rolling Stone Gen. Stanley McChrystal profile differently, holding back some of the damaging items to maintain access and the relationship. “I have a hard time believing that a beat reporter would sit on that story,” he said.

We also managed to squeeze in discussion of what’s behind Dave Weigel‘s resignation from the Washington Post.