If you would like to speak with the press, please consider first connecting to the #HookUp Collaborative account with firstname.lastname@example.org.
This e-mail account is operated by members of #HookUp, and is designed to field press inquiries and connect journalists with people who would like to speak, provided their conditions, including but not limited to anonymity, are respected. If you write us, please be patient as we are a volunteer collaborative with limited capacity. Please help facilitate the process by including the following in your e-mail:
- Confirm in your e-mail to email@example.com, that the e-mail you are using is not connected with a legal name or any alias you have ever used: A smart way to add a layer of protection with the press is to set up a dummy e-mail account that is not connected to your legal name or any other name you use, and to contact the #HookUp team with that address and an alias. We insist that you do not share information about your circumstances or your story to this e-mail account.
- The conditions for you speaking to the press: This could include being off the record, although it’s less likely press will be interested in an interview they cannot quote. If you plan to speak “on the record” you could require only communicating by e-mail, or only communicating by phone using a phone number not connected to your identity. You may also require that any quotes are pre-approved by you prior to publication. If you plan to meet the reporter in person, please think carefully about where you meet this person and whether any photographs could be taken, particularly in a public place. It may be advisable to meet in a private office in a neutral location for this reason.
Please also review this resource from the Red Umbrella Project, titled Speak Up!: Guide to Strategic Media Tools and Tactics to Amplify the Voices of People in the Sex Trades. We have excerpted the following language from p. 5, which concerns speaking with press concerning “Crime Stories,” defined as [w]hen clients, managers, sex business employees, or sex workers are arrested because of their involvement with an illegal element of the sex industry.”
Why is the Reporter Calling You?
- In general, the reporter is not calling you. If she is, it is because she hopes that you are involved in the crime as a witness, a victim, or a conspirator, or that you know something about it (people with good lawyers don’t talk to the press when they are involved in a criminal matter, but maybe you will – reporters will always try);
- The public has discovered the existence of some segment of the sex industry and is hungry for more details.
Characteristics of the Press Cycle
- Typically a short press cycle punctuated by the occasional resurrection of the story when the situation changes (trial, sentencing, another bust, etc.);
- Naming/describing/getting photos of the sex workers involved is a high priority;
- Getting vivid details of the crime(s) is a high priority;
- Tabloids are always most interested in these stories, but some community-based media and local television will also bite;
- Few (if any) opportunities to raise other issues.
Things to Think About
- It is unlikely to be beneficial to an individual sex worker to be involved in a story about a specific crime or arrest. It could even serve to incriminate you. What are you getting out of this?
- If your organization wants to take on criminal justice reform issues, it is even more important to be careful and selective about which stories you decide to be publicly on the record about;
- If you are not directly involved, those who are may be facing serious charges and your contribution to media around this story could have implications for someone else’s legal defense strategy. Be sure of what you are doing when you are speaking for others.