Public Notice to Reporters, Pundits, Industry Executives, Gov't Officials & Everyone Else
Over the past year, I've stumbled through the rules (some written, some unwritten) regarding confidential sources in journalism--you know: "Off the Record", "On Background", "Embargoed until XX date" and so forth. For the most part, I've figured these rules out, and common sense dictates my approach the rest of the time.
However, please keep in mind that a) I'm not perfect; misunderstandings do happen; b) I'm still naive about some of this stuff and c) even now, this website still isn't my day job; I don't have an editorial or legal department who I can "run things by" other than myself and, on occasion, my wife.
Please keep all of that in mind before you contact me with information which you don't want posted publicly or, alternately if you want the info posted but don't want me to cite you as a source.
I've made minor mistakes along these lines from time to time--not often, but twice in the past month or so (nothing major, and no, I'm not going to name them here). All I can say is that in one case, I asked them for clarification and didn't realize that they didn't want me to reference them as a source; in the other case, they provided information to me without my realizing that I'd be "scooping" them by posting it before they did so.
More recently, I was asked a question by someone who didn't initially state that they'd prefer their identity be kept secret, even though it was obvious that it should be. Fortunately, I double-checked and they confirmed that, yeah, please don't mention my name/employer (and no, I don't have a mole at the White House or anything like that).
Therefore, here's the rules (I posted something like this a year ago but it's sorely in need of an update):
- If you have accurate ACA-related information to share, I welcome it.
- If you ask me to keep your name, job title, place of work or whatever out of it, I'll do so assuming that I'm not legally, morally or ethically bound to publish it (ie, if you admit to killing a dude, don't expect me to keep mum).
- If you don't ask me to do so, I'll assume that it's ok to post both the information and the source. That doesn't mean that I'll do so (I get a lot of "secret info" which is actually not "secret" at all...and other times the info may be something interesting but utterly irrelevant to this website), but it means that I might do so if it seems relevant.
In short, nothing that I do here is worth anyone losing their job or getting arrested over. If I report that 3,000 people enrolled in X state last week, and you have "inside info" that it's only 2,900, that's mildly interesting and worth noting...but unless the other 100 people turn out to have been conspiring to embezzle with the knowledge/assistance of exchange officials or whatever, it's not exactly blowing the lid off of a huge cover-up either.
Thanks for your attention.