Press: Forms of Speech

Ground rules for conversation between reporters and sources come in commonly accepted categories: On the record means that everything said can be used, and the speaker can be quoted by name.

Not for attribution and on background are used to mean that a source's comments can be quoted, but he or she must not be directly identified; the speaker may be described in such phrases as "a top White House aide," or "a high State Department official" or, in extreme cases, "one observer." On deep background, pioneered by Henry Kissinger, means that whatever the reporter uses cannot be linked to a source...

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