By Steve Outing
I got a call from a New York Times reporter yesterday, wanting to discuss Facebook and news. To open the conversation, he mentioned that he found my phone number on this blog, and commended me for being “brave” to publish it online.
Hmmm. That struck me as a funny comment — though I can see where he’s coming from. The prospect for a reporter at a big publication like the Times of publishing his phone number for anyone to find must seem daunting, I’ll admit.
However, I think such concerns are largely unwarranted.
I’ve long made myself easy to contact, but never has my phone rang too much. While my profile is certainly not as high as a journalist at the Times, there have been times that I’ve written something controversial and gotten a wave of reaction — most recently to a column I wrote for Editor & Publisher Online about coverage of global warming. In that instance, I got lots of e-mail, but only one phone call, and even that followed an e-mail inquiry asking if it was OK if the person called.
When the medium is online, I think a journalist who publishes his/her phone number will still get contact from readers mostly via e-mail. Hiding your phone number doesn’t seem wise to me. Besides, with caller ID now standard, you can always let unknown callers go to voicemail.
Hiding phone numbers is more of a big-city paper/national TV network sort of thing, of course. My local paper, the Boulder Daily Camera, includes phone numbers on reporters’ bio pages — like this one.