No comment is a phrase used as a response to journalistic inquiries which the respondent does not wish to answer. Public figures may decline to comment on issues they are questioned or have nothing to say about the issue at the time. Officials not given authorization by their higher authority to speak to the media similarly may decline to comment.
No comment indicates that the speaker does not choose to say anything on the subject, and it is automatically invalidated if the speaker then comments or answers questions. It is not a request for the material to be considered off the record or otherwise kept confidential. If the speaker wishes to talk about the subject, but does not wish to be named as a source, they must obtain the journalist's explicit agreement in advance that the response is not to be used for attribution.
Some public relations professionals have argued against the use of no comment, stating that one of the goals of working with the press is to resolve issues before they become hot topics. Offering no comment allows the press to fill in the blanks, diverts the focus of the publicity, and sacrifices an opportunity to communicate key messages.
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- Laermer, R. (2004). Full Frontal PR. New York: Bloomberg Press.
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