Last week, I attended a little meet-and-greet with President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. No big deal.
Back in my former reporting job in Washington DC, I was in close proximity of the president and various “DC famous” people a good number of times, so I wasn’t snapping blurry photos with my iPhone like the rest of the folks in the room, but I did listen with interest to the speakers and even took out a little notebook and jotted down several bon mots that I found amusing.
Because you can’t take the reporter out of the girl.
I fired off a first draft of a blog post sharing these amusing anecdotes, which were said by some powerful people (who happen to be bosses of my husband) in a setting where they seemed to be letting their guard down a bit. There were no reporters in the room. I was torn about whether to post the blog, so I ran it by Mr.YemenEm. We had a discussion about whether it was okay for me to publicly share information that I was privy too solely because I was an invited plus one to a government work-related event. He thought it was not okay. I was on the fence, arguing that 1) What I wanted to share were little light-hearted comments and were nothing that had to do much with diplomacy. They were mostly about volleyball, oddly, and 2) The people in question are public officials who made remarks to a crowded room of their employees, most of whom were either video recording the remarks or taking photos with their iPhones. That doesn’t exactly send the message of “What happens in this room stays in this room.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to make hard decisions about what is okay to post on this blog. My blog came under scrutiny of higher-ups when I was living in Yemen, but that ultimately had more to do with perceived security concerns than me just having a big mouth.
I’m not a reporter anymore. But I’m still a writer. I have a strong desire to share things that I’m witness to or a part of, and incessant posts on Facebook just aren’t good enough.
As a reporter, the rules were more defined. I went to events and covered people in a position of power. Everyone there knew I was a reporter. I either sat in a special spot reserved for reporters, or I had a badge around my neck, and I always introduced myself and the publication for which I worked prior to asking a question. There are defined, albeit unwritten and kind of murky rules in journalism governing the use of terms like “off-the-record, “on background” and “you’ll be the only one I tell things to as long as you wear that tight white dress.” (Note: That last one is a House of Cards reference).
Less clear is whether there is a code of ethics for blogging in a way that is true to yourself while not pissing off your spouse.