Anything You Say in this Interview Can and May Be Used Against You

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Derek on his blog posed some interesting questions about the responsibilities that journalists have in their treatment of public figures (or others used to dealing with the news media) and everyone else who is not used to talking to them.  I think the key is that reporters need to consider the individual circumstances and situation.  If they consider these specifics and remain “sensitive” (which Josie discusses on her blog), reporters won’t have to worry about treating people unfairly.    

It would not be fair for journalists to treat people who were used to dealing with the news media and other people the same way.  The politicians, celebrities, etc. know how to say just enough without saying anything, they have practice making it seem like they are answering a question without actually doing so, and they are very cognizant of the results that a slip of the tongue could have on the rest of their lives.  Most other people are not used to this.  They won’t realize the potential results of what they say.  A journalist needs to make the interviewee feel relaxed and comfortable, but at the same time he or she needs to make the potential effects of the interview clear.  Reporters should help the interviewee realize anything they say “can and may be used against them,” whether the “against” is intentional or not.  However, all of this is essentially just “sensitivity”.  If the reporter considers the circumstances and then considers how they would like to be treated were they the interviewee, the dilemma of how to treat people disappears.    

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