Final Word from Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Journalists in many countries are used to following strict rules about quoting sources. A comment made "off the record" can't be used, period. And a comment made "on the record" can't be changed by the source later to "off the record" merely because he or she gets cold feet. In the CR, the rules aren't so clear. The Syndicate of Journalists indicated that a comment made off the record can be used if it's in the public interest. This is the argument MF Dnes uses in the Kořistka political-corruption affair. The paper promised Zdeněk Kořistka anonymity but later printed his name because of the "seriousness" of the matter. MFD has been criticized for its behavior, notably by Jan Macháček of HN, but there are actually no signs that it violated the loose rules of Czech journalism. Until the rules are tightened, though, many people will rightly be scared to talk to any Czech journalist off the record for fear of being quoted. code of ethics conduct Hospodářské noviny

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