Monthly Archives: May 2018

So when does ‘On the Record’ begin?

A news story appeared today, where the head of Sainsbury’s Mike Coupe was filmed singing “We’re in the Money” ahead of a press interview.


You may think that is outrageous, but what is more outrageous is the fact that this has turned into a news story when the interview had not begun. Does this cloud the time when an interviewee is “on the record”, or should they assume that they are permanently on the record?


Another example of this is from 2016, ahead of Theresa May becoming Prime Minister, and Ken Clarke and Malcolm Rifkind discussed her off the record and this became a media storm.


The question I have here is at what point does the person you’re interviewing become something that is on the record? Is it from the moment they are sat in front of the camera, from when they first appear on the screen or from when the question is asked? I’ve appeared on television from time to time and in one instance, was in a remote Sky News studio and left there for a few minutes before and after the interview took place. Does that count as being on the record? Is there Sky News footage of me sitting looking at my phone waiting to be escorted from the studio?


My concern here is that is breaks down the trust between the interviewee and the journalist. I don’t do many video interviews these days, but when I did in a previous job I made it clear on what we would talk about and from my introduction we were on the record. These days on phone interviews there is always some small talk before we get to the point, that’s just human nature surely?


Of course there is always a grab for a story and I appreciate that this has become a media sensation, but my concern is that if everyone can be recorded and wrapped into a news story these days, the trust barriers break down.