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Inspector_Closeau.jpgFred Wilson is using his blog, A VC, to say he’s been misquoted in the press. He proposes a dangerous alternative.
He says he wishes the journalist “could just read my blog and take quotes from there so that I did not have to talk to her…. I guess that’s too much change to hope for.”
Be careful what you hope for Fred.
Beware the Stealth Interview
At least the reporter told Wilson she wanted an interview. That’s not always what happens. Thanks to the Internet, you may be quoted, sometimes at length, without actually being interviewed. I call these interviews Stealth Interviews.
You will definitely be quoted out of context in a Stealth Interview because there is no context. The interview never happened. But you’re quoted nonetheless, and you did make the statement. You just didn’t think you were saying it to a reporter.
How it happens: a traditional or new media reporter is looking for a quote that reinforces or gives contrast to his/her point of view and in search results, she finds something you once said online that fits the bill. Your “quote” could come from a forum, a blog or a list comment, an exchange in a social networking forum, an article you wrote, even an email.
Unless you’re paying close attention, you may never even know you’ve been included in a story via a Stealth Interview. Whether that encounter hurts you or helps you has a lot to do with whether you know how not to come across like a jerk and whether you regularly monitor what is being said about you online.
The Internet not only brings a new component to media interviews but also offers a new definition of reporter. Thanks to the Internet, and particularly to inexpensive, easy-to-use blogging software, everyone can be a publisher. A post by an influential blogger or list moderator, or a comment made by a complete stranger in the feedback section of a media site or chat room can have as much – or more – impact as a story in a major national news outlet.
The stealth interview that has come into wider use as the popularity of the Internet has grown. Journalists of all stripes are overworked, time stressed and, let’s face it, lazy.
Online Content is Forever
A journalist or blogger seeking information about you or a quote from you can easily find these entries and pick them up. Bloggers, for example, tend to quote from and comment on news stories published by other bloggers or journalists. Once something appeared that was incorrect, even if it was later corrected, it can come back to haunt you over and over.
Take very much to heart the fact that everything you write or say can come back to haunt you, especially on the Internet. Online journalists aren’t the only ones using the Stealth Interview. Busy traditional journalists in a hurry or in another time zone are just as likely to use the technique.
Be Vigilant, Even Paranoid
Search Google, PubSub and Technorati on your name, your company’s name and the name of your blog to see what is available online about you. Put all applicable topics into the search engines, LexisNexis and Factiva to see what comes up. Or use a service like Media Watch that will scan the Web seeking mentions about you. That way, you’ll at least know what is available to reporters.
For god’s sake make sure that contact information is prominently featured on your site and your blog so a reporter can call you.
And next time you’re tempted to fire off a flippant comment on a blog or forum, think twice.