‘No’ to emails helps reporters

Northern Star staff members pride themselves on their professionalism and their duty to report the truth.

To ensure nothing but the truth is reported, the Northern Star does not allow email interviews. Northern Star journalists also do not send interview questions via email and will not use quotes from a source if they are sent via email. Only on rare occasions will exceptions to this policy be allowed, and those exceptions can only be determined by the Star’s editor in chief.

The Northern Star has had this policy for semesters, but had not formalized it in an editorial.

Email interviews do not give us the ability to report accurate information to the best of our ability. When it comes to email interviews, the person conducting the interview doesn’t know who’s replying. The answers could be crafted by the interviewee’s boss or a spokesperson.

Divya Kumar, editor in chief of the University of South Florida’s newspaper, the Oracle, said email interviews are not a good way to have an honest, open relationship with readers and sources. When Kumar banned email interviews it reached news on a national level.

“It’s helpful when we can be transparent with our readers,” Kumar said.

Email interviews don’t give the interviewer a chance to ask followup questions. The Northern Star’s journalists want to make sure all the right information is presented in the content we publish, and there are often unanswered questions when an email interview is over.

Email interviews also do not give the interviewer a chance to get a source’s initial reaction. They don’t give writers the ability to see if the source hesitates or struggles to find the right words. Getting an insight to the source’s thoughts during an interview is just as important as getting their answers.

Email interviews aren’t personal. There’s no chance to get to know the source on a face-to-face level. Email interviews deny the interviewer and source of a good rapport and a good professional relationship.

The Editorial Board understands people may feel uncomfortable with in-person or over-the-phone interviews, but the staff can ensure accuracy by recording interviews. If sources feel uncomfortable with the policy they are more than welcome to contact Editor in Chief Kelly Bauer at 815-753-0105 or Editor@NorthernStar.info.