Media issues

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Is there such a thing as an off-the-record speech at a public event?
According to Meghan O’Sullivan, former deputy national security adviser to President Bush, who was set to speak at Indiana University, there is.
O’Sullivan canceled her speech last Tuesday in part because the school newspaper, Indiana Daily Student, wanted to cover the event. The IDS refused to keep the speech off the record because the speech was free and open to the public.
Suddenly O’Sullivan felt “sick to her stomach” and the speech was canceled when the it was supposed to begin.
There are several issues with this.
First, contrary to some beliefs, there are no such thing as an off the record speech at a public event. The idea is proposterous.
A public forum is meant to be just that — public. If O’Sullivan wanted to have a private meeting, she should have made a list of guests and allowed only those people to attend.
You don’t send out a press release (which coincedintally said the event was off the record) and not expect a media outlet to come.
Central Michigan Life sometimes experiences these issues. Sometimes a reporter is not allowed in because people at the event “may not feel comfortable to speak freely with you here.”
To me, not allowing a media outlet to attend an event for that reason is defeating the purpose of a culture of exchanging ideas.

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One Response to “Media issues”

  1. Jason Gillman Jr. Says:

    Here’s an ethics question for you journalism types: public type event, but there’s a good chance that the speaker doesn’t want reporter types around. Do you sneak in a recorder, or is that violating some unwritten journalism ethics rule?

    I certainly like having a verbatim copy of what was said when I write about something to back it up, so when I go to these public speaking events, I usually have a recorder with me.

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