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Monday, June 28, 2010


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Ari Herzog

Of course "off the record" exists and of course it can be used properly. The key word is can. It usually isn't because the source doesn't know about the equally ambiguous term of "not for attribution."

I've been on both sides of media relations: as a print journalist and, now, a public official frequently quoted. As a reporter, people told me content was off the record; they also told me things on condition of anonymity. The latter is akin to writing something like, "a senior Pentagon official said" in lieu of the General's name.

Had the General prefaced such before he continued, you wouldn't have written the above -- except if someone else entered the room subsequent to its start and didn't know his words were anonymous.

Phil Gomes

We'll never know what actually happened in either case (that is, the particulars of whatever non-enforceable agreement the military made with Rolling Stone *or* the identity of the "leaker" on journoList).

That said, neither party has much of a reason to voice indignation or surprise.

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