from Jules - Thursday, January 20, 2005
accessed 1207 times
Over the past week there have been many requests from members of the media for interviews with participants at this website. I’ve heard from a few people that in some cases the reporters have been quite aggressive in pursuing this story and have left those they’ve contacted feeling quite pressured and uncomfortable.
For the sake of those who might find it helpful, I wanted to pass on a few ways to protect yourself while talking to the media. The list below is based on my own experiences and although it doesn’t cover everything and there are some things that are rather obvious, I’m posting it anyway for those who would like to have this information. If there are others who’ve had experience along these lines and who would like to contribute, please feel free to add anything you see that has been overlooked.
1. Find out the name of the reporter and/or producer and look them up.
A quick Google search of their full name will likely reveal other material they have published. Take a look at the content and the tone and be sure that they are reputable and that you are comfortable with their style of reporting.
2. Find out the name of the TV show or newspaper.
Again, a Google search will likely turn this up. Is it a newspaper or a tabloid? A talk show or a documentary? Are you comfortable with the general tone of their publication or show?
3. Make sure they are who they say they are.
A reporter should email you from a legitimate email address. If they are emailing from a yahoo or hotmail account, ask for their work email and be sure that the domain name matches their company’s web site. (ie: JohnSmith@nytimes.com)
4. You do not have to answer any questions you don’t want to.
If a particular question makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable you do not need to answer it. Graphic questions about details of sexual abuse for example, are not something you need to answer publicly if you are not comfortable doing so. Don’t let anyone pressure you into talking about something you don’t want to.
5. Make sure that you have adequate support.
Talking to the media about such painful and deeply personal issues is not easy. Make sure you have a friend around who can provide support for you. If possible bring someone with you to a face-to-face interview for support, even if they are not going to talk to the reporter themselves.
6. Protect your identity if you choose to do so.
If you are not comfortable with your real name being used, or your face being shown, you do not have to consent to either being used. Don’t let anyone pressure you into speaking out in a way that might be unsafe for you or cause your family or life harm.
7. Provide any documentation you have.
Photographs, documents, videos and any other documentation that you have which verifies your story is very helpful. Bring copies of these things with you to the interview or send copies to the reporter.
8. Find out information about the show.
If this is radio or television, is it live or pre-recorded? How long is the segment that will air? Do you need to be in their studio, or will they come to you? Also, what is the topic of the show and what do they want to know? Reporters are not likely to provide a list of questions ahead of time, but you can get a sense of the type of questions they will ask by talking to them ahead of time.
Thank you to everyone who is speaking out. It does make a difference, and the truth is being told.