For clients who are facing media scrutiny, it’s a good practice to video interviews with the media.
This practice puts journalists on notice that they better be accurate with quotes and not takes statements out of context. It enables clients who aren’t treated fairly by a reporter to use the recorded interview as a response, posting the entire interview for everyone to hear the rest of the story. It can also be used as evidence to complain to an editor if a reporter unfairly butchers the client.
From my experience, most reporters video interviews anyway and are typically OK with being videoed by an interviewee. It's hard for them to refuse since they’re doing the same thing.
But unlike Chicago's City Hall officials, who were called out this week for secretly recording phone interviews with Chicago Tribune
reporters, you should first inform the reporter that you’re going to record the conversation, both from an ethical and sometimes legal standpoint.
A dozen states have laws that require that all parties in a phone conversation must consent to be recorded. The rest of the states require what is called “one party consent,” which means that if you’re part of the conversation, you can video it without informing anyone else.
The law in Illinois requires that all parties are informed and consent to be videoed, as this lack of approval could be considered a felony offense. After initially passing off the secret recordings as “much ado about nothing,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel conceded that it won’t happen again.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press publishes The Reporter's Recording Guide
and breaks out the laws state-by-state.
In the newsroom, the most common rule of thumb is to inform sources that your conversation is being recorded. But these days with bloggers and news websites that don’t have established standards, we tell our clients that you can assume any reporter or blogger is recording the conversation, and you should tell them you’re doing the same.
Gil Rudawsky heads up the crisis communication and issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. He is a former reporter and editor. Read his blog or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.