Bridge over ocean
1 March 1978 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 34, Issue 2

Coping with the Financial Reporter

  1. Reba White

Do you know how to prevent the misunderstandings and misquotations that often result from an interview with a financial journalist? The first step in preparing for an interview is understanding the journalist’s background. He is almost certain to know nothing about your special subject. The burden is on you to make him, fleetingly at least, an expert in your field.

The second step is to arrange to have the interview take place in your office, where you can invite an associate to sit in. No matter how well you express yourself extemporaneously, you are bound to say things that are not clear. Hearing what the writer hears, the associate will be able to pinpoint any misunderstandings before they appear in print. As further insurance, ask the journalist to read back all direct quotations for clearance before the article is published. Most reputable journalists will agree to this point, particularly if you raise it before the interview.

Sometimes, of course, the article will appear without even mentioning your name. This almost certainly means you have failed to say anything quotable. Take time before the interview to prepare some colorful anecdotes that make your key points as concretely as possible.

If there is a misunderstanding with the journalist, don’t bother to argue; list authorities who can back you up. Indeed, it is always good practice to suggest other authorities, including those who may disagree with you.

A journalist will never forgive you if you give him false information. If the only alternative is hanging up the phone, or shutting him out of your office, throw manners to the wind.

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