Watch Your Mouth

In my post about my 15 Minutes of Fame after I was published by the Nieman Lab I discussed how I wish I had written more eloquently, because I had no idea that my post would end up being seen by such a prestigious news source. I definitely learned my lesson that I need to take the time to edit my posts to make sure that I am putting out quality content that represents me well.

However, yesterday I learned another very valuable lesson that it’s not just how you say something, but what you actually say. Once something goes public, you can’t take something back – so you have to be incredibly careful about what you decide to put your name on in the first place.

When I attended the Andrew Robertson lecture yesterday, who is the President and CEO of BBDO, I was asked by someone from The Daily Tarheel if I would mind answering a question about the lecture on my way out. Normally I wouldn’t do this kind of thing, but I guess I was in a generous mood yesterday because I said why not. However when she asked me why I attended the lecture, I froze. The true answer was because I was required to, but did I want to tell that to a reporter? Probably not. I asked her if she needed my name, and she said she did. After I heard that I knew I couldn’t answer that question. The last thing I want is for people to be reading the paper and see a quote from me saying that I only go to things that are required. Which is true, but only because I don’t normally have class on Monday and I had to work a half day to be able to make the lecture. But I still don’t want that to be on the record, where it not only reflects on me – but all organizations I am associated with.

I’m thankful that I didn’t blurt out my answer before I thought it all the way through. I guess if I’ve learned anything from my journalism classes it’s to be careful about what you say to someone, because you never know how it will be used. I realize that I’m saying it here, but the likelihood of someone seeing it here is a lot slimmer than it would have been in The Daily Tarheel.

Thankfully when I said I didn’t want to answer that one, she said she could ask me another question: Did you find anything surprising about the lecture? I happily answered that one, relieved to have dodged the first-question bullet. I’m glad to have escaped that situation unscathed, but it definitely reminded me to be incredibly careful of what I say ‘on the record.’

Emma vanBree

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