I'm not going to comment much on my employer's salons except to say that I've been to them, and there's no scandal there. At the paid ones, where the journalists talk, the journalists dictate what we say, and the sponsors are told they have no control. At the unpaid salons, it's--well, it's an off the record briefing, of the sort that every other journalist is well familiar with. Either way, I've never said or done anything that I wouldn't say at a regular interview, and neither have the other journalists.
But this Jack Shafer article is just silly. Off the record conversations allow journalists to get much deeper
understanding of what's going on. That's why journalists talking to
their friends about their jobs at companies of interest to the
journalist talk off the record. I'm sure that Jack Shafer has done
this, or else he doesn't have any friends in the media.
there are journalists that get carried away with the excitement of an
off-the-record conversation. Subjects can lie just as easily off the
record as on it. But it's absurd to say that the only worthwhile
conversations between journalists and the powerful are on the record.
Off the record conversations allow politicians to say things that they
cannot say publicly because the Fed Chairman or the Secretary of State
or the Schools Chancellor cannot be seen to say certain things as they
are trying to affect outcomes--they are, as the economists like to say,
endogenous to the system. Restricting their ability to explain things
off the record would restrict the supply of information available, not
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