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Holding a story?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SixToe, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    You know of an event that will be announced soon.

    It is not major in the overall scheme of things, but will be a nice story and something nice for your city.

    Your source close to the event, who also is a friend, has filled you in but asks the story be held so the mayor can make a splashy announcement.

    Do you hold it and score some brownie points that could pay off later with bigger stories, or burst their bubble?
  2. TyWebb

    TyWebb Well-Known Member

    Depends. Do you have compeition that could beat you to the punch? If so, I'd give thought to running it.

    But from the sound of it, this isn't a HUGE deal and won't blow any doors down, so it might not be worth it to burn what sounds like a valuable source. I would probably hold it.
  3. In Cold Blood

    In Cold Blood Member

    That's a delicate balance... don't want to burn bridges, but you don't want a competitor to run the story first, because then it looks as though they outreported you...

    that's a call you'll have to make - what's the potential damage to your source relationship vs. the potential gain from outreporting the competition...

    which is more important in this particular case?
  4. run the story

    and tell your friend your SE forced you to do it

    i've been burned holding stuff when given promises

    just go with it
  5. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Off your limited details, I say burst it. "Hold for splashy announcement" I'm guessing means wait for TV, and screw dat. If you know it, you know it. You said yourself it's not major, and if the friend's a friend, any sting of releasing it early should wear off eventually.
  6. No need to burn your friend, or hold the story -- work the phones, other sources, and get alternative confirmation that the information you already know to be true is... well, true. Then break it. If your friend cares, you might tell him/her that another reporter/editor heard the same thing, otr, and then collectively the news team was able to corroborate that information through multiple other sources (natch, otr).

    In the end, this sort of sussing out actually builds rapport with sources because: you get the story first and you get it right; no sources need to be named (though it's always fun to run a denial from an official source); and, most importantly, you've successfully waltzed into potentially sensitive otr territory with said sources whilst holding up your part of the bargain.
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Unless I'm missing something:

    If the guy gave you the story with the understanding you hold it, you need to hold it.

    I understand the "independent reporting" notion, and not totally against it, but it can be dicey. You get it somewhere else, your friend's going to have to believe that's what happened, or you're going to get a "Yeah right," and the source might be burned anyway.
  8. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    I'd keep bugging your source/friend. Explain to him you need to run the story. Explain to him that after the mayor's announcement, this information is basically useless to you. Explain the business to him. Assure him that the world will not end if you break this story first. Tell him you'll keep his name out of it, if it comes down to that.

    You might be surprised. With enough begging, he may relent.

    And if not, fuck 'em. ;)
  9. EE94

    EE94 Guest

    The mayor won't be offended if you break the story. Any politician - and trust me, I've known more than a few - would love a two-day news story that is positive, which is what this sounds like.
    My guess is your friend is assuming the mayor will be pissed, but that's probably because he doesn't understand politics.
    If the sole reason for holding it is to give the mayor the spotlight, screw that and run it.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    These things always take some judgment, but it has been my experience that:

    1. Folks usually aren't that unhappy about a story breaking early (other media outlets may be, though).

    2. Those promises/hopes of a scoop sometime in the future rarely pan out. If your buddy is skittish on this, how is he going to act if there is some big news you could break? He gonna be less skittish?
  11. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    Hold it. Keeping relationships alive with contacts is half the battle in this business. Don't run it.
  12. Writer33

    Writer33 Member

    We run into that here from time to time. I usually tell my source that I want to run it the morning the event is planned. I explain how the lazy slobs in local radio either sit around waiting for the fax to ring or just read my stuff during their newscasts. It's crazy. My daughter job shadowed me when she was 11. We had a press release from the local community college. We had he rewrite it and gave her a byline. Mr. Radio read it word for word the next day. Happens all the time with no attribution.
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