22 years (almost) and I think I almost have spelling and punctuation sorted out. But the elephant in the room is always whether what you say in front of Julius is private, or published.
Most times people are intelligent enough to qualify when something we talk about is not for publication. There are layers to this:
- Off the record could mean either the subject is not to be reported (like, there is something BAD or illegal or commercially catastrophic associated with publicity) OR:
- Off the record could also mean you just don’t want YOUR NAME associated with the reporting. I have an unblemished record protecting sources. Which means, I don’t verbal you, or shop your name to The Man.
Then there is:
- Confidentially; which means the above.
I’ve walked the streets a free man for almost 22 years and rolled up to any and all industry events untroubled by conscience. If I were blowing confidences, I’d get knuckled or yelled out of the room – but that has never happened!
I understand if you are in confidential mode. You’ll tell me, and I’ll abide by the agreement. This works fine when we talk about it, doesn’t work at all after I’ve published and you decide it is too hot and declare the matter off the record or confidential AFTER the horse has bolted.
So when does this bite you, or I?
One incident that I really should get over was almost a year back, in the Emirates lounge at Auckland. A lighting guy I respect looks up and says hi, then shuts his Mac Book and tells me he is not here, he is not doing anything, and he can’t tell me why I am looking at him. Great stuff if he works for the CIA, but for goodness sakes – a beer and a chat was what I had in mind, so I could only assume the dude concerned was either:
(a) Paranoid – or –
(b) Just rude.
Aside from that, the vast majority of the time I have great conversations and respect the confidences along the way.
Which keeps everything nice!