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What exactly does off the record mean to Bob Kravitz?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Double Down, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    His column today about Kelvin Sampson, which reveals a previous off-the-record conversation they had when Sampson was hired.


    Seriously, what the hell? Off the record doesn't mean you waive those rules once the guy gets fired, or is mean to the home town school. Either you agreed to have an off the record conversation -- one that you couldn't later reveal -- or you didn't. Not only is this a shitty job by whomever edited this column, it's also a dumb move by Kravitz. If I was Peyton Manning or Tony Dungy, why would I ever go OTR with Kravitz if I knew he might reveal it down the road, as soon as it was convenient?


  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I don't really have a problem with it. He gave the general sense of the conversation and his impressions.

    If he had quoted him directly or indirectly quoted him knocking another coach "Sampson says that SOB at Memphis has uses untraceable cell phones to get around the rules" it would be different.
  3. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    So would you have had a problem with it had Kravitz written the "general sense" column the day after he returned from Bloomington?

    What's changed?

    To me, off the record isn't about direct quoting. What if Jeff Darlington had simply written that Nick Saban was joking about how people in Louisiana are rednecks and inbreds? He doesn't use the "coon-asses" quote, but gives you a general sense of what's what? Would that have been ok?
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I don't know what Kravitz wrote originally, but if his strongest sense was that Sampson thought the phone thing was no big deal, that everyone does it but just cheats better at it, I think a real good column would test that.

    Talk to NCAA enforcement types about how common it is, how coaches get around it, talk to coaches/ex-coaches about how pervasive and how big of an advantage it is.

    You don't even had to use Sampson's conversation.

    I think your Nick Saban example is going beyond what I would consider fair. He is being critical of a state full of people.
  5. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    In Saban's defense, he's right.
  6. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    There's off the record, as in Sampson saying "This is off the record, but D.J. White has been suspended for missing six days of class," and then there's off the record in the sense of "come in, sit down, let's chat like old buddies."

    Is it wrong? Yeah, it is. But he didn't directly quote him, he didn't go through the nuances of the conversation, and he referred to the context of that two-hour meeting in six sentences.

    He could have gotten that same impression from several other meetings, press conferences, etc. But he's not really spilling the beans here.
  7. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I'm really surprised that no one seems to give a shit about this. I think it's completely bush league. All the explanations involving semantics don't cut it for me. All we have, as journalists, is our word. Either the conversation with Sampson was one that could be used for publication, or it wasn't. If Kravitz agreed to that upfront, then none of the details from that conversation can be used in his column. It doesn't matter if it's a direct quote, or a story, or whatever. He has Sampson essentially saying it's ok to cheat as long as it's just calling recruits and not giving them money. That's not nothing.
  8. Stone Cane

    Stone Cane Member


    unprofessional and unethical
  9. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    I give a shit about it. Off the record means "You cannot use this under any circumstances, though if I happen to repeat some of it during an on the record conversation, you can probably use that particular portion."

    Kravitz got too specific. Eliminate the two "It was the way he . . ." graphs and Kravitz' offense isn't bad. I think it's Ok to describe the coach;s general mood; "contrite, but more about having been caught." Not OK to describe the way the coach compared his crime to what other coaches do. Saying "hey man, those other guys do worse!!!" is generally not something a coach would say on the record. Kravitz made a mistake here.

    And . . . . .

    "Oh, by the way," I really hate when columnists use that construction.

    "That famous Bob KNight tirade was a loud one in a year during which, oh by the way, they won the Big Ten title."

    Grrr. . . . .

    As for the rest, this is just Kravitz kicking the corpse one last time.
  10. silentbob

    silentbob Member

    I dont have a problem with it.
    Kravitz pretty much kept the conversation private. He just wrote about what made him feel uncomfortable about the conversation.

    Yes, that's bending the rules just as much as Sampson did, but in this case I think it's newsworthy. If a politician tells a reporter off the record that he is against health care reform, then goes out and tells the populace that healthcare reform is his top priority, I think it's the reporter's job to tell everyone that the politician is lying.

    Same principle here. Kravitz's conversation, off the record or not, pretty much shows Sampson didn't have any intention of abiding by the rules, eventhough he promised everyone that he would do so. Off-the-record conversations are not always black and white. There's some gray area involved, and Kravitz just wondered into it.
  11. Except that, by definition, yes they are.

    Reporters want it both ways - they want to have this relationship with sources, because you almost have to in order to get your finger on the pulse of the beat.

    But, at the same time, we want to be able to use the dirt, as well.

    Bob Kravitz is one of my heroes, so I'm sure he has a good reason/explanation. But, to me, "off the record" means "off the record."
  12. Baltimoreguy

    Baltimoreguy Member

    I tell my friends outside the business that there is no such thing as "off the record." Even if a reporter promises them that the conversation is off the record and he won't print a word about anything they say, I tell them they still need to proceed as if they'll be quoted by name in the next day's paper.

    I've gotten in heated arguments with colleagues about this, as they think I'm misrepresenting the nature of what we do and that no journalist would ever betray an "off the record" source. But it happens more often than a lot of us would like to admit.

    Conversely, I hate going "off the record" with a source and will generally never agree to an off-the-record discussion unless there's a reason I really, really need to.
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