I've done my fair share of picking on the business/corporate travel associations and also picked a few bones regarding lack of understanding about the ways in which we in the media operate. So if you're fed up with all that, stop reading now. If you work at a group that plans events, though, please read on. [more]
"Thank you for joining us at the ACTE Global Education Conference in Paris. As you may know, Pascal Cagni (Apple) will speak during the plenary session on Monday morning. Please be advised that all of Mr. Cagni's remarks are off the record. We appreciate your consideration."
That's a note that reporters received on Saturday regarding a speech that was scheduled for today and, well, you can't do that. "Off the record" is an understanding that comes about from agreement between a source of information and a journalist. In this case, Cagni needs to have communicated with the reporter(s) in question and come to an agreement that what he says will be off the record. By default, comments and actions observed by reporters are on the record.
Moreover, as I pointed our with regard to GBTA's Masters Program
, the trouble with making such blanket statements to reporters is that everyone is a reporter now. So even if we in the media were to honor the "off the record" dictum--which we will not, and I hope the rest of the journalists covering ACTE will not--that does nothing to stop members of the audience from tweeting or blogging the remarks.
If you don't want members of the media covering your session, please tell us we're not allowed to attend, like GBTA did. You may think it's harsh to ban the media, but it's much more palatable than issuing a command that makes no sense and will only serve to confuse a lot of people. If and when we quote Mr. Cagni, for example, won't he be pretty pissed off that ACTE gave him the idea that his comments would be off the record? Well, maybe not. After all, he spoke in front of 1,000 people!