FAQs for Talking with a Reporter

Our reporters do their best to get the pulse of the campus community, which is why they’ll often ask to speak with members of the University community for stories. But we understand it may be some people’s first time talking to a reporter. Here’s a list of FAQs to help you understand how reporters work and how to work best with them.

Q: Is my name going to be in the paper?
A: Reporters want to be able to use your name for publication, assuming you give them permission. Always assume what you say to a reporter is “on the record,” meaning they may use your comments and name in the story unless you and the reporter have agreed otherwise. You and the reporter should agree on the terms of the interview before it begins, such as whether or not they may use your name. Technically, if you enter into a conversation with a reporter, they may use what you say for publication unless you tell them otherwise.

Q: Can I talk to a reporter and not use my name?
A: Transparency is one of our top goals, meaning we always want readers to understand who they are reading about. We do not use anonymous sources without a compelling reason, such as if attaching your name to your comments in a story would put you in harm’s way. If you believe this could be the case, talk it over with the reporter and together you can decide the best way to proceed.

Q: What does “on the record” mean?
A: It means the reporter can use your comments and attribute them to your name. Reporters try to stay on the record at all times.

Q: Well, I just don’t want to comment for the story. What do I do?
A: Politely tell the reporter you’d prefer not to comment. Otherwise, have a discussion with the reporter about your options. Sometimes, an “off-the-record” or “on background” conversation, meaning you talk to the reporter but they will not use your name or attribute your comments to it, can still be very helpful for the reporter.

Q: What happens after I talk to a reporter?
A: Nothing happens on your part! This is their job. They’ll head back to their laptop and type out a story. You may not always see your name in the story even if the reporter talks to you. Reporters try to talk to as many people as is relevant for the story, and they may not always be able to include everyone who they talk to in the finished piece. But, anything they learn through interviews informs their writing, which means they took your comment into account.

Q: I’m an international student worried about talking to the press. What do I do?
A: You are the best person to decide whether or not you want your name in the paper. We’ve heard concerns about speaking with the press from many international students, and we as reporters understand it can put people in a difficult position. But of course, international students are part of the campus community, and we want to be able to include your voices in stories for the benefit of other international students and the campus community.

Q: I want to talk to the paper but I don’t want to use my name. Can I do that?
A: We always want names of sources. This is a matter of building trust with our readers and being transparent in how we report our stories. With that said, if the topic is very sensitive, we could have a discussion of using just your first name or no name at all. If we are not allowed to use your name, we may be less likely to publish your story in the article. Another option is to ask the reporter how they’ll use your name in the story and what quotes they will be using.

Q: I was interviewed for a story, but I don’t like my quote in the paper. What do I do?
A: Reporters strive to ensure that everything used in a story is accurate, fair and truthful. Quotes used in stories are always verbatim and never changed after you speak to a reporter. If you believe something is factually inaccurate, or that the quote is unfairly represented, you should reach out to the reporter who you spoke with about it. You and the reporter, along with editors from the Daily, can decide what to do. The Daily is committed to correcting errors in stories. The Daily does not make changes to published stories unless something is not truthful, or used in the wrong context to the point that the average reader would incorrectly interpret what was being communicated.