KB: From the Times’s coverage it seems that the decision to keep the kidnapping private was guided in part by the fact that the victim was an employee of the paper. Would you consider a similar media blackout for kidnap victims who were not affiliated with the Times, but other media organizations? What about private citizens? Or, high profile Americans? For all them, it would seem that the same considerations would apply—not wanting to elevate their status in the kidnappers’ eyes, for example—but would it make a difference if the victim weren’t a journalist?
BK: We have in the past honored blackout requests in kidnapping cases—for journalists and non-journalists—and would do so in the future.
KB: When Rohde was a finalist and won a Pulitzer there was no mention of his name. Was that a nervous moment for you when you thought news might leak? Did you have a dialogue with the prize administrators about how to handle the situation?
BK: Yes, we were concerned that the prize might make the story irresistible. We drafted a just-in-case version of a story to post on our website if the news broke in a big way. To our relief, that proved unnecessary. I’m not aware that we brought it up with prize administrators. In group entries like this one, with more than three journalists involved in the submission, the award announcement cites the paper but does not list all of the contributors.
KB: We saw a piece in the Christian Science Monitorthat Rohde’s captors sent a video of him to Arab TV networks. Did that challenge your resolve to keep quiet about the kidnapping?
BK: I’m afraid that falls under the definition of things we don’t intend to discuss.
KB: We’ve heard that Al Jazeera agreed to the blackout as well. Is that true? Did that take any special persuasion?
BK: Yes, that’s true. I explained the situation to top editors at Al Jazeera, and they agreed not to do a story. The organizations that agreed to support our strategy of silence also included a number of outlets that would probably not be classified as MSM. Gawker, for instance.