“How do I know the person who contacted me is a Mercury reporter?”
Ask the reporter for his or her student media badge when they arrive to the interview. All staff reporters are asked to carry one. Reporters contact sources using their UTD email or a Mercury email, like firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact editors directly or our adviser, Chad Thomas.
“Why do reporters ask to record the interview? Why not take notes?”
The Mercury requires all its reporters to use recorders and take notes. This practice ensures information is reported accurately, and recordings are also saved in the event that The Mercury must verify quotes.
“What is “on the record”?”
Speaking to a reporter “on the record” implies the content of the interview is meant for publication. If a source would like to share sensitive information not fit for publication, they must explicitly state that during the interview.
“How soon do I need to respond to a reporter?”
Reporters have a three-to-four day timeframe to write and turn in their first drafts. Ideally, a reporter will contact you on a Monday to ensure they have enough time for interviews before the week ends. Reporters may determine the need for a staff source later in the process, sometimes contacting a source early in the second week of the production cycle. However, a reporter should provide the source with a three-to-four day timeframe to respond. In special circumstances, like breaking news, a reporter might contact you on the phone for an immediate response.
“I don’t want to have an in-person interview. Can I do the interview via email?”
In order to avoid the risk of censorship, The Mercury strongly discourages the use of email interviews. Staff members also want to have conversations and develop positive working relationships with their campus contacts. While they always prefer an in-person interview, reporters can interview sources on the phone in the interest of time and availability.
“Why won’t the reporter send over the questions? How should I prepare for the interview?”
According to our staff policy guidelines, reporters are not allowed to send out questions to sources. We want the interviews to be conversational to allow for a candid discussion of the issue at hand. However, you may ask the reporter about the topics that will be covered and the perspective the reporter is trying to provide to the story.
“I want to read the story or at least my quotes before it goes to print to make sure it is accurate. Why won’t the reporter send it over?”
According to Mercury policy, prior review is prohibited. Reviewing content prior to publication is not an accepted practice in student and professional publications. Especially in the college setting, prior review would significantly increase the risk of censorship. Anything that is spoken “on the record” can be used for the purposes of the story, unless clarified as above. Like most professional publications, The Mercury leaves quotes unaltered, only making slight edits in order to aid reader comprehension. The Mercury is committed to reporting information accurately. To ensure accuracy and fairness of particularly complex or sensitive subject matter, reporters can call sources to review select parts of the story in order to confirm factual accuracy. This is at the discretion of the reporter and the editor-in-chief.
“A story was printed that pertained to my department, and we were not given a chance to respond. What should I do?”
Contact the editor-in-chief and inform him or her that you were not provided with a chance to respond. He will work with you to get the correct information out to the readers.
“I wasn’t happy with a reporter’s behavior or the information in the story was inaccurate. Whom should I contact?”
Please contact the editor-in-chief or the managing editor to report the issue. Contact information is available on the Contact Us page. If it is determined that factually inaccurate information was published, corrections will be made online as soon as possible. A correction will run in print in the following issue as well.