A guide to The Ubyssey for potential sources

What is The Ubyssey?

We’re the independent UBC student newspaper. We have a hyperlocal mandate and only report on UBC and topics that matter to students. We are run by 11 paid editors, all UBC students. We’re a non-profit BC society, and have a board of directors that oversees our financial operations. Click here for more information on what we do and how we run.

How will I be identified in a story if I agree to be a source? Can I ask for anonymity?

You will typically be identified by your first and last name and your title or position. If you’re a student, we’ll ask you for your year and major. The interviewer will also ask and use your correct pronouns in the piece.

We rarely grant anonymity, but do in cases where the safety or livelihood of a source could be compromised in some way for talking to us. That could mean we use only your first name to identify you, or we use a different name for you. OurAnonymity Policy outlines our standards around anonymity. It is important to know that even when you are anonymous in the story, the writer and editor will both know who you are in order to verify the story.

If you would like to request anonymity, it is important you let the interviewer know that before you speak to them on-the-record.

What does ‘on-the-record’ mean? What does ‘off-the-record’ mean?

An on-the-record conversation means everything said can be used for an article and attributed to you. An off-the-record call means that a reporter may take notes or record if the source is comfortable with it, but nothing mentioned in that conversation will be used in an article or attributed to the source. Often sources come to us for an off-the-record interview if there’s something they want to tell us that they’re not authorized to tell us, or they want to give us a heads up on something we might be interested in reporting on. It is important to specify something is off-the-record before you speak to us.

Can I receive the questions ahead of the interview?

We do not share specific questions ahead of live interviews. This is to avoid canned answers. If you want to prepare for an interview, reporters are free to send you a list of topics they plan to ask you about. In certain cases, reporters may agree to an email interview for accessibility reasons.

Can I see the draft before it’s published?

No, we do not share drafts as a rule. It is not considered ethical and it makes it difficult for us to report objectively if we have sources weighing in on how an article is written. Occasionally for marginalized or vulnerable sources we will share the quotes we plan to use in the article in advance, but best practice is for sources to set up a call with a reporter if they’re nervous about the article. Reporters can talk a source through the angle and check all the facts with them over the phone, so we can ensure we’re reporting everything a source has told us as accurately as possible.

Will the interview be recorded?

Usually, yes, but it depends on the reporter. Often we record all interviews to ensure we are quoting the source correctly, and so editors are able to double check that the quotes the reporter put in the story are accurate. Reporters will ask you at the start of the interview if you’re comfortable being recorded.

What will happen to the recordings reporters take during the interview?

Nothing further, unless specifically stated. Recordings are used for fact-checking purposes and stored for future reference. In rare cases we use interview recordings for videos or audio projects, but you will be asked for permission to use a recording for a project like that.

Can I record the interview myself and use that as I wish?

You are free to record the interview yourself if you’d like, but that recording is for your own notes, not for publication. However, just like our recordings, if you would like to use part of the interview for a podcast or blog post of your own, send an email to the relevant writer and editor to ensure they are comfortable with that usage.

There’s an error in the article. How do I get that fixed?

Email the relevant editor. All contact information for editors can be found here. We’ve recently standardized our process around correcting errors and issuing corrections in order to remain accountable to our audience. We'll note at the bottom of an article if there was an error or if it has been updated.

I was quoted in an article years ago and I don’t want it public anymore. What can I do?

When you speak to us for an article, assume that it will be up online for an indefinite period of time. We do this in order to maintain the public record. However, there are rare exceptions in which we will unpublish an article or consider adding an editor’s note or retroactively anonymizing a source. Our Unpublishing Policy, linked here, outlines our process around those kinds of requests.