Today’s national news media takes a lot of heat for being biased, and that same court of public opinion can hold sway for local reporters. The only words that mean much in this case are the completely objective ones in each and every story you write.
The Proof is in Your Reputation
Reputation is built through relationships with people. Build a positive reputation for yourself – and put some distance between yourself and any reporter who exhibits an obvious bias – by following seven simple rules of good reporting.
- Be a person. Shake hands, introduce yourself and be very clear about who you are and what organization you represent. Smile, even.
- Ask for help. If you treat a source like a hostile witness, you’ll get exactly nothing useful for your article.
- Be punctual and prompt. Keeping a potential source waiting is just bad form.
- Give feedback. Restate what your source has told you, and not just the juicy bits. Feedback is the most important listening skill. Your sources will feel comfortable that you will verify any quotes or facts with them before running off and printing them.
- Show some respect. Don’t call anyone by first name unless they ASK you to. It’s “Mr.” or “Mrs.,” “Yes, ma’am,” and “No, sir” at all times. “Off the record” means “Do not print.”
- Get all contact information. Even if you don’t intend to use a source for that story, you never know when you may need them in the future.
- Follow up. Verify quotes before deadline, say thank you, and schedule a call for a follow-up story (or just ask if it’s OK to follow up).
Big Stories Come To Those Who Tell The Truth
Objectively telling each and every story, presenting both sides and putting forth all that due diligence will pay off with the best type of news story ever, bar none: a true one. Give readers the truth, let them judge the facts for themselves after they’re duly informed, and don’t forget to preserve your crowning achievement with custom article mounting. It can be your very own proof that good reporters actually do exist.
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