Poynter has a memo from Col Allan which prepares Post staffers for a letter from their legal counsel asking them not to discard or alter any “documents” related to phone hacking. He notes that this request was “not unexpected” in light of what has gone on in London at News of the World, and “not because any recipient has done anything improper or unlawful.”
So, what documents? The legal definition is pretty broad.
Any documents pertaining to unauthorized retrieval of phone or personal data, to payments for information to government officials, or that is related in any way to these issues, must be retained.
Please note that the term “documents” should be construed in its broadest sense, including but not limited to: written material, graphs, charts, files, e-mail, text messages, instant messages, any content in social media, voicemail, tape recordings, microfiche, video and film, handwritten notes, draft documents, memoranda, calendars, card files, appointment books, and the like whether in hard copy or on computer databases, hard drives, desk tops, laptops, thumb drives, disks, backup tapes, or any other storage medium, and regardless of whether the document is located on a company-issued or personal device. It also includes all copies of the same document.
The term “related in any way” should also be applied broadly. If you have any doubt whether a document should be preserved, you should err on the side of preserving it.
Before we start imagining the fall of the the Post (Col Allan in the Capitol, sweating in the late summer DC heat, answering to a stern Nancy Pelosi,) has the paper had any scoops so bizarre or shocking that they suggest unethical access?
If they needed to hack a phone to find out starlet du jour Brit Marling isn’t dating the gay member of Vampire Weekend, they don’t deserve to be in this business!