Some insights from the EWA listserve about the issue of whether the public is well-served when journalists go off record (used with permission):
"If your reporting is solid, your sources grow,
over time, to respect you and tell you things – on the record...I think in a way it strengthens the
professional relationship and doesn’t open the door to misunderstandings."
-- Jennifer Jordan, Providence Journal
"I find the whole thing icky, icky, icky. Basically, it's acknowledging,
"We won't say the truth when we can be held to it publicly. Then we
will only speak in soundbites."...I do think there are some instances for sources to go off the record.
Whistleblowers are the most obvious. But the idea this should apply in
the same way to the big policy conversations? Puke."
-- Linda Perlstein, EWA public editor
Staying on the record 100 percent of the time doesn't apply to all situations (ie, with kids, teachers, parents), Not all journalists feel this way, and some don't seem to feel they can get the job done without going off record. But they can, and I hope they will.