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Why don't people like to call reporters back?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Pulitzer Wannabe, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. I'm working on a project in which I have to get ahold of a lot of people, and it seems like it's an absolute bitch just to anybody to call or email me back. At all. When I am able to ambush them, they always say they're busy and will call back or can I call them back later please? And of course, they don't call back. Or I can't reach them if I do.

    What gives? This isn't the first time I've ever had this experience. Seems to be pretty common. And this isn't a controversial story at all - just an in-depth look back at some old games.

    Why don't people like to call reporters back? I swear, I'm beginning to think persistence trumps all other qualities that make a good journalist.
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Who are you trying to call? I find high school coaches can be awful hard to reach and they don't want to talk at certain times.

    Others, just don't want to talk to reporters and use the callback thing as an excuse.

    If you are trying to reach a bunch of folks, maybe it would work better to batch email them and let them know what you are doing and leave a number where they can call you.
  3. batch email interview requests?


    just wow

    this board never ceases to amaze me
  4. Sometimes you can find an email address on people and not a phone number, though.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    If you are trying to call high school coaches, for example, it's much easier to get them via email (which they may be plugged into all day) than get them on the phone. And if you leave a phone message they never get it.

    I am not saying that you should conduct interviews via email, just contact the subjects.

    These days if I am trying to reach a PR person, official or coach and it's not someone I deal with all the time and I don't have a cell, it's generally a lot quicker to reach them via email.
  6. Sneed

    Sneed Guest

    This is a good idea for explaining what you're doing for the story, and obviously emails might be your best option if there's no phone number to be had, but interviewees rarely set things up without some prompting.

    And yeah, persistence is key, but in a balanced form. You don't want to be borderline restraining order-style, but you can't give up after one or two calls, either.

    And some folks really are just busy. The ME for a magazine I write for takes forever to get back some weeks, and he's my employer, not a subject.
  7. NISB35

    NISB35 New Member

    Somehow this is the opposite for me. I happen to have many coaches who teach PE, and are less likely to use E-mail than any other teacher. That's my theory.
  8. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

    people don't call back because they suck.
  9. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    A 24-48-hour turnaround is pretty standard for me -- and that's for people I WANT to talk to. I can certainly see where talking to a reporter would fall kinda low on some people's priority lists.
  10. micke77

    micke77 Member

    don't know if i had sent my earlier thread on this subject because got distracted with an interview and all, but i have been using the e-mail method a lot. and it works for me. have had good responses, both from athletes and coaches...
    and the ones who don't return phone calls, i am just persistent as hell about tracking them down. if i know i need them to help my story, i will stay after them pretty persistently. tactful, but persistent.
  11. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    Write doesn't know how to work that newfangled e-mail machine ...
  12. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Call them.
    When they say call later, ask what time. Call at that time.
    Then call every 15 minutes until they talk. They'll get the point.
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