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Developing sources on a beat.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by wickedwritah, Sep 12, 2007.

  1. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    This has been one of my biggest challenges in the biz.

    With people I don't know, I'm not exactly the most outgoing person. They interpret that as me being aloof, and I've been told that hampers my source-building skills.

    I want to get better on it, I really do. Any tips for being better with source-building?
  2. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Tell your source it's off the record, then write it.
  3. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    Beyond even what wicked said, I'm not sure I even know HOW to develop sources. When I'm around the people I cover, they're working and I'm working. It's not like I can just bs with them for 45 minutes just to build a friendship. I basically wonder how to form sources while everyone's under the crunch of preparing for the weekend.
  4. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    You have to, have to get them out of their competitive setting.
    Bring a cup of coffee to their office. Call them outside the parameters of your current relationship. Email and include a personal note. It's more of a quid pro quo than a source. I suppose it's not different than building any relationship.
  5. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    And that's where my problem is. Me and relationships aren't good together.

    So maybe I should just ditch the field and be a data entry jockey. But personally, I prefer the writing and reporting aspect to sitting in a windowless office all day.
  6. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    Here's the problem I've run into on my current beat: You never get to talk to anybody outside the parameters of those staid "player availabilities."

    We don't get to watch practice. So there's no BSing with trainers, assistants, hangers-on. The coaches offices are behind a security door that requires a key code to enter, so there's no chatting up assistants.

    The only people we ever deal with outside of "player's availability" are the SIDs -- and they aren't telling anybody anything sensitive. It's their job not to.

    It's a tough, tough gig.
  7. Eagleboy

    Eagleboy Guest

    I've actually done a pretty good job of doing two things:

    1) When joining a beat, either you as the reporter for the first time or a new coach coming into the fold, I like to try to set up a meeting with them one-on-one and just outline "this is what I do, now what do you do?" I've rarely ever not gotten a business card and a phone number "if I ever have questions" at the end of the meeting. Then I just work that a little bit here and there for give-and-take and then lead up to the potential big news.

    2) When I'm in the close proximity of someone, I always just break the ice with a quick conversation starter ("Great day for a ballgame" and "Looks like we're going to have a good game today, what do you think?" are always two of the best). That way, they'll usually say something, and if they don't, just poke 'em again with another question ("How about yesterday's match-up?" or "What do you think will happen?")
  8. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    I'm roughly four hours from what I cover. Hard to bring them coffee. I also work desk half the time, so I'm only on the beat half the time.

  9. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Try a case of Bud and a couple cartons of Luckies.
  10. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Good tips. The shy one in me usually recoils, even though it shouldn't. Must become more social...
  11. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    That may be too aggressive...
    Oh, wait. I think I misunderstood.
  12. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    well played, fishy. Also you, jg.

    Anyone with actual suggestions?
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