Briefing: Things to consider when speaking to the press

Please remember that journalists, no matter how charming, do not have your safety at heart. They are primarily interested in the story, and the next story, and the next.

If you use your real name and show your face or let your voice be heard, it will be there for time immemorial. The consequences can be very serious. Women in the ECP network have had bricks through their window, had their children bullied at school and even found that local businesses like their car mechanic charge them more assuming they are raking in cash. So here’s a few tips:

  1. Ask the journalist if you can be anonymous.
  2. Don’t give them your phone number. You’ll find they won’t delete it and may even pass it onto other journalists.
  3. Make sure your phone number is blocked if you call them and/or do an interview over the phone.
  4. Don’t use your real or working name.
  5. Don’t give them access to your real/working online profile/FB page.
  6. If it’s a face-to-face interview, ask to meet in public. Don’t let them come to your home or working premises. Best that you choose the location and get there slightly early so they don’t film you arriving.
  7. Say that you don’t allow photos at the start. They might take them without asking and it is hard to get photos deleted once taken.
  8. Ask a trusted friend to go with you.
  9. Don’t answer questions about how much you earn or how many clients you see. It’s none of their business and is likely to become the salacious focus of the interview.
  10. Don’t speak negatively about other sectors of sex workers. Journalists love a story that we are at each other’s throats. For example, a comment like, we aren’t like those workers [street, brothel, escort workers . . . ] can be misrepresented.
  11. If they ask for examples, like “what’s the worst client you have ever had”, don’t speak about situations/people that will identify you. Change a few details if necessary.
  12. The ECP uses interviews to bring up wider issues such as policing, the laws/criminalisation and economic hardship. This moves the conversation from personal, private details about you and your work and focuses it onto what needs to change.
  13. If it is written media, ask if you can check your quotes before publication. Some won’t but some do.
  14. Look the journalist up and see what other subjects they have covered and how. Remember some newspapers like the Sun and the Daily Mail are notorious for fabricating stories. Trying to get them to correct an article/quote or apologise is like banging your head against a brick wall.