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Press groups: keep public comments on the record

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  1. Newsgathering
Thirteen press groups including the Reporters Committee said Wednesday that speakers at conferences and other public events should stop demanding…

Thirteen press groups including the Reporters Committee said Wednesday that speakers at conferences and other public events should stop demanding that their public comments be considered off the record, Editor & Publisher reports.

In a joint letter sent to approximately 600 press secretaries, the groups noted that “Congressional and federal agency staff members … frequently offer insight into policy deliberations at widely attended events such as conferences, but either refuse to allow reporters to use the information or insist that they not be named in news stories.” The letter noted an example where “two high-level Hill staffers told an audience of 300 people that they would be speaking off the record.”

“This practice disadvantages the press and the public in favor of special audiences who are not bound by the attribution rules,” the letter said. Rick Blum of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, which aided in coordinating the protest, added that “[i]n today’s age of Twitter and blogs, an ‘off-the-record’ speech will be publicized, just not by reporters.”