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Ethics question

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Platyrhynchos, Aug 7, 2007.

  1. Platyrhynchos

    Platyrhynchos Active Member

    I know this belongs elsewhere, but I bring it here because of the larger audience and time constraints on my end of things.

    I talked to a sheriff and agreed that what he said would be off the record. During this conversation I learned that a state bureau of investigation guy interviewed the suspect in question.

    Is it unethical to use a source (state bureau of investigation guy) learned while discussing stuff off the record? I've never had this situation arise before.

    Help, please.

    Thank you very much!
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    Not sure exactly what your are saying, but why would you agree to talk off the record if you were never going to be using any of the information?

    Typically, you wouldn't quote the sheriff anonymously from what he said off the record, but I assume you would go to the state bureau guy and try to confirm it that way.
  3. BNWriter

    BNWriter Active Member

    Off the record is off the record. Therefore, I would not/could not use it.

    However....Would you have any problem with going back to this source and saying to him, "you gave me a great piece of information off the record, but I really think its vital. Would you have a problem with my using it but saying that 'sources familiar with the situation who did not/do not want to be named say that....'"

    Not 100% kosher but at least your integrity with the source stays in tact.
  4. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    At least by following BN's suggestion, you'll have the opportunity to broach the subject with said sheriff without violating the confidence.
  5. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Off the record means you aren't putting it in the paper. It doesn't mean you're not going to do a story.

    Doesn't mean you can't follow up a lead the guy gave you. Why would he mention that the BCI guy had interviewed the subject? He wants you to get it on the record from him.

    Talk to the guy. Tell him you learned from another source that he interviewed the subject. Don't use the first guy's name.

    You're all good.
  6. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member


    Just call the state bureau guy and start asking him about it. Don't mention the source's name.
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Yeah, off the record means he doesn't want it attributed to him. Doesn't mean you can't follow up.
  8. Platyrhynchos

    Platyrhynchos Active Member

    Thank you all very much.
    Sound, logical advice.
  9. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Exactly what Zeke said!

    Go to the other source.
  10. Jim Tom Pinch

    Jim Tom Pinch Active Member

    I can see how this isn't in the Journalism Topics thread
  11. Platyrhynchos

    Platyrhynchos Active Member

    Probably had something to do with my plea in the initial post.
    That, or I have incredible stroke with the Mods. ;D
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