Small Business Trends Radio

D-Day: Would You Sell Out Your Country for a Pulitzer Prize?

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The recent World War II celebration of D-Day reminded Your Business Blogger that there is one thing you will never get from a reporter.

Loyalty.

But there is help. Here are three handy phrases for self-defense against an aggressive reporter: Off the Record. Deep Background. Not for Attribution. I use them to gain a second to think.

These disclaimers usually will protect a source. And because you are an influential small business owner, you will, one day, be interviewed. (I know this because you are reading this blog.)

But do these phrases always work?

The only reason a small business owner would talk with the press is to advance a marketing plan or another agenda. The source will tell his story; the reporter will write his story and seldom will they be same.

Sometimes, you might wish to remain an anonymous source.

Most of the time, it is in the interest of the reporter to protect a source.

But don’t bet on it. If you have anything — anything that would make a story, you will be compromised.

The most dangerous spot to be is between a reporter and a Pulitzer.

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Ben Bradlee

For example, would you sell out the American soldier for a Pulitzer Prize? No? Ben Bradlee would.

My friend Gary Bauer tells this story:

A number of years ago at the National Press Club I had the opportunity to ask Ben Bradlee, then executive editor of The Washington Post, what he would have done if he found out ahead of time about the D-Day invasion to liberate Europe.

Would the Post have printed the story?

Bradlee’s answer took a while, but the bottom line was . . .

“yes.”

Now most of what we communicate will not rise above compromising anyone. But take no chances, because the reporter will take no prisoners.

Of course not all reporters are monsters. Some of my best friends are journalists.

But remember reporter Ben Bradlee. Would he compromise his country?

Yes. For a story.

If a reporter cannot be loyal to his country, he will not be loyal to you.

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