Speaking off the record / 'on background'
Anonymity is offered to anyone who wishes to speak confidentially with me, provided it is not in an official capacity. (“Corporate spokespeople who are paid to provide information simply don’t meet the criteria for being granted anonymity." - Julia Angwin.)
Anonymity may be offered to sources mentioned in print who face retaliation or who would be endangered by providing me with information. If you are a worker, whistleblower, public servant, or are otherwise not authorized to speak with a reporter, our conversation and your identity can remain confidential. Avoid contacting me while at work or from any network hosting a work device. Keep in mind that I cannot access any protected system without the owner's permission.
Typically, I will not communicate off the record with companies. If a company spokesperson wishes to speak off the record, they must explain why on the record first, and I reserve the right to decline and probably will. Speaking "on background" requires an agreement from both parties in advance. I may agree to receive impromptu information on background eventually, up to the point the privilege is abused. These are industry standard policies.
I anticipate preservation holds, and so by default, I do not retain records with any identifying information related to confidential news sources. I may ask that sources take steps to protect themselves, too, proportional to the risks they face, and to those I and my colleagues may face in the event we agree to resist extraordinary legal pressure to protect their identity.
I am unlikely to publish original copies of leaked documents if the source requires anonymity. You should be aware that sensitive documents sometimes contain hidden data that can be used to identify the person to whom they were originally given. If you suspect the material you wish to share was unlawfully obtained, I will ask that you not share it further.
Never do anything that compromises your safety.