Company Culture

Technical.ly is updating its editorial policy for on-background sources

In an aim for greater transparency, we're streamlining how we communicate with media relations professionals, and better explaining to readers how we source our information.

Members of the Technical.ly team in June 2022. (Photo by Dominique Nichole)

To kick off this year, Technical.ly, which covers the innovation economies of Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, Pittsburgh and Delaware, is updating a part of its editorial policy related to attribution.

Covering the ever-changing tech industry means we’re often evolving, too. In recent years, as the concept of Big Tech has risen, transparency with users has become key. We’re here to help you understand the role technology plays in your life, to follow the trends of working in the industry and to take a hard look at the regions that our reporters cover.

Our new policy takes a look at the concept of “off-the-record” and “on background” sources. In the last year or so, we’ve experienced the rise of media relations professionals — especially those representing or working directly for larger companies and corporations — aiming to have more conversations that cannot be attributed to them.

We’ve heard this request for anonymity from media pros when asking direct questions, when receiving pitches or information about company updates, and often in the face of difficult news, like company-wide layoffs, investment info, staff size and more. Our new policy expresses that Technical.ly is taking a harder line, and requiring more transparency from the companies and people we report on. We’re following the lead of other outlets that have updated their policies in the face of similar behavior.

Our goal at Technical.ly is to be an arm into the world of technology and entrepreneurship within the markets we cover. We aim to be the most reliable, trustworthy and informative source in our communities, and our updated policy, below, helps us achieve that.

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Technical.ly reporters, like those at other news organizations, operate and gather information via on-the-record conversations. On-the-record conversations are quotable, attributable and intended for publication. If you aim to go off the record, or share information that cannot be published, that agreement should be discussed before entering a conversation with a reporter. We will not remove content and quotes of a conversation that happened during an on-the-record conversation from a published article.

We may sometimes engage in on-background conversations with sources, meaning we may report some of the information you’ve given us, but we won’t quote you or directly attribute it to you. We do this to get deeper background on a subject to report our beats more accurately, and always aim to verify on-background info with other sources. But this, too, is an agreement made between a reporter and a source before entering a conversation, and is done for good reason, like concerns for safety or job security. At times we may also use anonymous on-the-record sources for similar safety or security reasons.

As a rule, Technical.ly will only accept on-the-record, quotable, attributable statements and information from media relations professionals, as communicating with the press is a key part of their role. If they do not provide on-the-record statements or information, our coverage will acknowledge this.

We hold these standards in order to promote the highest level of  transparency for our readers, and to gain the clearest information possible from the companies, people and communities that we cover.

Companies: Technical.ly
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