In the video, Russell discusses the importance of being mindful of who you share your story with and what they might do with it. He suggests that it's important to set ground rules with anyone conducting an interview, especially with the media. Russell advises that if someone wants to record an interview, you should make sure you feel comfortable and safe before discussing anything, and you have the right to walk away at any time. He notes that once you share something with the media, they own it and can edit it however they choose. Russell recommends vetting individuals before working with them and suggests reaching out to someone with experience before agreeing to an interview. Overall, he emphasizes the importance of being thoughtful and mindful about how you engage with the media.
"I talked to you about, you know, the choice you have in sharing your story, and um, I think that it's important to understand that if you do choose to share your story, who do you share that story with and what are they going to do with it? Um, you may be approached by somebody in the media or um, oftentimes, sometimes graduate students who are doing dissertations and thesis work, and I think that it's important to understand the rules and the engagement, particularly with the media.
So, the first rule is when you say things are off the record, you can't say it after you said it. You have to say, "this is off the record," and then make your statement because if you say it afterwards, it doesn't count, and that's an important factor.
I think the other fact is that you need to really set the ground rules with the individual that's conducting the interview. Um, I think that if they just immediately start recording the interview, make them turn it off. Um, that you don't have to uh start talking about your story or your knowledge or understanding of human trafficking until you feel comfortable and safe.
Um, I can certainly tell you that I've had both positive and negative experiences with the media. Um, the positive experiences were when the interviewer recognized that I was the one with the information that they were seeking, and that they were honoring my knowledge as a professional and an expert in a field that they were trying to gain um more knowledge in, and those were the more positive experiences. However, I've also had experiences where the individual just sat down and started recording and said, "okay, so tell me your story," and I had to remind them to turn off the recorder, that this was not the place where I felt comfortable telling my story.
Um, and that if they wanted to discuss human trafficking in a generalized sense and in a way that my professional and expert knowledge and understanding was what they were after, I was more than happy to discuss it with them. And other than that, you have the right to get up and walk away at any time. The key is to remember that once you tell them something, they own it. They can edit it and use it in any way that they choose. And so, they can paint the picture with your story and your interview any way they want, and you don't get to control that after the fact.
So, um, just be very mindful of your interactions with the media. I'm not suggesting you don't have interactions with the media. I'm just saying be very thoughtful about how you engage with them. And if you do get requests, um, you can certainly reach out to me and talk to me about it before or anybody that you have in your network that has experience with the media. I would recommend, uh, doing that. I would also recommend vetting and looking into the individual's background, other stories they've written, their position on social issues, for example, and um, the organization that they are representing and the qualifications that they have. And I think those are all really important aspects of uh, working with the media."