Historically, readers have had to trust journalists to accurately transmit information acquired from expert sources. Interview material often ended up in a reporter’s notebook, and the reporter would perhaps share the notebook with an editor and no other.
The Internet age makes the old approach largely obsolete. The Web allows for nearly infinite background material for a story. As we suspect (not without evidence) that mainstream fact checkers depart on occasion from the best practices in handling interviews, we consciously depart from the old tradition.
- While we will follow the traditional allowance for interview material to remain “off the record” or on “deep background” and the like, we do not anticipate much need for keeping interview material secret. We will make available online interview responses along with the questions we ask whenever possible. Readers deserve that context in judging the reliability of a fact check.
- We will ask to record telephone and in-person interviews in accordance with applicable laws.
- Because telephone and personal interviews will require either transcription or the availability of audio files to keep with the policy of transparency, we will prefer email interviews.