On Using Comments From Students Who Were At Today’s School Shooting

Questions have been asked about whether we need parents’ permission to use quotes from students who were at today’s school shooting.

Here’s our guidance:

We do not need to get the consent of parents or guardians if the comments are from interviews the students give in public at or near the scene.

There is a “but”: We need to stick to things the students say about themselves and what they experienced. “I heard the shots and ran toward the woods,” kind of things. Or, “my teacher told us to get in the closet.” If they start talking specifically about other people, that’s material we should not use without discussing first (with senior editors and Legal). For example: “My friend [FIRST NAME, LAST NAME] got shot in the leg.” Or, “I saw [FIRST NAME, LAST NAME] point the gun at [FIRST NAME, LAST NAME] and pull the trigger.”

Meanwhile, if we see minors posting on social media about being at the school and then contact them for interviews — or get contact information for students and start reaching out to them — we do need to get permission from the parents or guardians before doing any interviews. The students are not in public anymore.

(“Memmos;” May 18, 2018)

May 18, 2018

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