OLD Media Moves

Why The Markup doesn’t allow PR people to speak on background

October 3, 2020

Posted by Chris Roush

Julia Angwin

Julia Angwin, the editor in chief of technology news site The Markup, writes about why it does not allow company spokesmen to speak on background for stories.

Angwin writes, “We, at The Markup, did not receive the Amazon email (we’re not sad). And perhaps one reason for that is that we decided early on that we would not participate in “on background” conversations with company officials and spokespeople. We tell every company that we contact for a comment that we need an on-the-record statement, and if they can’t provide one, we will not use any comment at all.

“Not only that, but we also require that official spokespeople—who are paid to speak on behalf of their companies, after all—attach their name to their statements. We don’t publish company statements that a person would not, for some mysterious reason, want to attach to their name.

“Our reasoning is simple: anonymity isn’t standard; it is a privilege that should be borne only out of necessity. We reserve anonymity for people who could face retaliation or undue hardship for the information that they are providing us in the public interest. Corporate spokespeople who are paid to provide information simply don’t meet the criteria for being granted anonymity.

“And yet, many corporate spokespeople are offended by our policies and sometimes try to insist on anonymity.”

Read more here.

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