Tips concerning contact with the media
Citizens are entitled to insight into public sector activities. And many people in society need the expertise held by researchers or academics. The media can be an important channel in this communication. When you are contacted for an interview or asked for information by the media, there is a lot to consider.
If a journalist calls for an interview
- Find out what the issue is about, as well as the context. Are several people to be interviewed? What will your role be? The questions will be different depending on whether you are interviewed in your capacity as an expert or as someone in a position of power decision making, for example.
- You do not have to accept the interview itself immediately; you can instead ask to get back to them shortly, to have a chance to gather your thoughts. In that case, agree on a time and make sure you are available then. You can also recommend a colleague who is more of an expert than you are. If you are contacted by a journalist from abroad, you can expect to have to accept or decline on the spot.
- Think through your main message. What is the most important thing you want to convey?
- If there is time and you feel uncertain, warm up by asking a colleague or communications officer to practise the interview with you.
During the interview
- Consider the interview as a collaboration. Answer the questions, but also add other details that may be relevant. However, try to be concise. It is OK to respond ”I don’t know”.
- If you are interviewed for TV or radio (if it is not a live broadcast) and you want to reformulate the answer to a question – ask to pause the interview, think for a minute or two and rephrase your reply. Broadcasting journalists are generally used to this.
- Before both recorded or live broadcast interviews, you can request to review the questions with the journalist in advance so that you are more prepared. It is in both parties’ interest that the interview is as good as possible. In the case of accountability interviews, you cannot expect to receive the questions in advance.
After the interview
- After the interview – feel free to offer the journalist additional facts/information and be available to them in case of any follow-up questions.
- You can request to read your comments, or have them read to you, before they are published. In that case, only comment on the parts that concern your own quotes, not on other parts of the text. Respect journalists’ tight deadlines if you have changes to suggest. This opportunity is rarely offered abroad.
- If you notice an error, start by contacting the journalist you spoke to. Be sure to have an open dialogue and consider the severity of the error before requesting a correction.
The media and the law
- The Swedish Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, which means among other things that anyone has the right to express themselves in the media. They may also do so anonymously.
- Public authority employees are entitled to tip off constitutionally protected media about absolutely any topic in the workplace. Managers or colleagues do not have the right to investigate who has disclosed the information (prohibition against inquiry) or punish the person who provided the information (prohibition against reprisals).
- Pursuant to the principle of public access to official documents, the mass media are entitled to access official documents unless they are covered by confidentiality. However, public authority officials are entitled to read aloud to a journalist from a confidential document, provided that it is suitable for publication. This is a right, not an obligation.
- In case of such requests, consultation of the following web page is recommended:
Go to the page Disclosure of public documents and confidentiality
Please contact the press officers or communication managers within the relevant organisation of Lund University:
press [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se
Press Manager, University Management
+46 46 222 70 18
anna [dot] johansson [at] rektor [dot] lu [dot] se
+46 46 222 07 69
kristina [dot] lindgarde [at] lth [dot] lu [dot] se
+46 46 222 70 17
jonas [dot] andersson [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se
+46 727 07 45 46
lotte [dot] billing [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se