The five Ws are the most basic parts of information gathering in journalism: Who, what, when, where and why.
Why is often the most interesting and important, the others are just bare essentials.
A few conversations lately with flaks while trying to collect or check the first four Ws have bordered on the surreal.
A recent development at some very big companies seems to be to decide that people’s age, gender etc is secret.
“We do not feel comfortable releasing that information”, I have been told.
Since those details are nearly always easily checkable anyway, this seems like a losing strategy. If not somewhat laughable.
From the picture I was looking at, the CEO of the big business looked like a 50-something bloke, as indeed he is (extensive inquiries revealed).
Not confirming that just makes him look defensive about his age, or something.
These weren’t scurrilous pieces I was working on, they were soft features written with full co-operation. Easy wins that the flaks were seemingly trying to turn into own goals.
If you are a completely private person then your age, marital status and the rest of it may well be no-one else’s business.
If you are putting yourself forward to appear in newspapers, you plainly are not a completely private person.