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Can a media organization keep sources from talking to other outlets

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by valpo87, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. valpo87

    valpo87 Guest

    Basically I work at a weekly publication and wanted to do our own coverage of a story that has received national attention. Came in contact via FB and the source even asked me about getting something in the paper. So I emailed him with my contact number.

    He then says there is a national news organization that is seeking an exclusive. Thereforr he said he has to ask for their permission to allow me to do a story. This has missed one deadline and thankfully I'm not in trouble. But its received several various reports. Not sure when something can be considered "exclusive."

    I'm leaving out details for professional reasons.
  2. BurnsWhenIPee

    BurnsWhenIPee Well-Known Member

    This other organization can ask whatever they want of anyone. But they can't force a source from talking to you.

    It's up to the source in the end. But if this national news organization says they are not interested if the source talks to you, then you're probably going to miss out.
  3. valpo87

    valpo87 Guest

    So now we get into ethics. I honestly feel that this should not be tolerated. But at the same time what do you do?
  4. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    All you can do is offer the source more money than MSNBC is paying him.
  5. JCT89

    JCT89 Member

    What's the ethical issue? Don't we all want exclusives? If I'm at the big national publication in this scenario I'm absolutely using my organization's prestige and reach to my advantage. It could backfire, but worth making a play at getting the absolute exclusive by bringing up the difference in the size of both papers.
  6. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Is it a promotional piece the national outlet is doing on the person? Can the source be indirectly helped financially by the larger story?
  7. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Unless there's some sort of financial transaction, and thus a contract, involved, I would think the person can talk to whomever he damn well pleases. It might be in their interest not to talk to other outlets -- for example, if a show like "60 Minutes" is doing a story that will give them far more exposure than your weekly, and there's an agreement with CBS not to do any other media until the episode runs -- but there generally is no such thing as an "exclusive" when it comes to other media outlets. That's just the national media people throwing their weight around, trying to do a little bullying, and protect their story. The source might have a reason to protect it, too, but you don't. Just because you're at a weekly, you should never feel like you have to bow at the altar of the national people. If anything, you should be able to work your local sources better than they ever could and do the story anyway.

    Is this a person you deal with on a regular basis? Is this the only person you can talk to about it? Is it a big enough story that it's worth pissing them off for a while? You can always go around them, talk to others connected with the story, and tell the other person you're running it one way or another. Explain your side to them, that if you don't it makes both of you look a little foolish to have something in the national press and not the local paper, and that you can give them exposure to the locals who might miss the national story.
    If they want to talk, fine. If they don't, fine. If he's been trying to get something in the paper about it, he's probably talked to others. You can work around him if it comes to that.
  8. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

  9. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Didn't Chris Jones run into something like this in Ohio? I can't remember the story, but I remember reading he asked a source if anyone had contacted them about a story, only to find out another big time reporter was there for the same piece. He asked if they could not talk to the other reporter, IIRC.
    Back on point, tell your source there's nothing to worry about. If they want his story that bad, they won't care if the local weekly gets in on it first. Trust me.
  10. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member


  11. valpo87

    valpo87 Guest

    It's a story about him only and other daily outlets already have a version. But I was interested in doing our own coverage since there were a lot of questions left unanswered from the daily. Unfortunately, he would be the only source for there to be any story.

    I've already spoken with my editors and they said I've done what I can to pursue it (messages four times since he said he had to get permission). It's one of those stories where the source wants to get the word out but is now limiting who he talks to.

    I know I"m being vague, but considering I want to remain anonymous, it has to be.
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