8. Be pleasant. Make all talk. Be humble. After all, you don’t know everything, A you need help, or you wouldn’t be there. And you should try to be sympathetic, when it’s merited. Try to be a friend - but always remember you are a reporter.
Don't be judgemental. Whatever your source says and if you don't agree with it, look for other sources that may jive with your own opinion, but remember just keep this to yourself. You don't have to be vocal about your own opinion. Stick to being a journalist.
9. Remember the obvious question: That’s not as easy at its sounds. You can get caught up in the small talk, the story-telling, the new angles, the listening, the good humor and charm of source. But remember what you came for. Identify the questions before you go in, and keep working on it, keep asking. If people ignore or evade your key questions, or lead you down another trail, you have to come back. Reword your question, rephrase it ask it in different ways, as many times as you must until you do have an answer that’s understandable believable.Normally, when you are in a press conference, when you keep things as comfortable as possible, everybody tends to relax and lay back a bit. Don't get caught up with that, especially if you are talking about an issue or an exciting sports event and people would really want to hear the real scoop. Really listen and read thru the angles. The person in the podium might say some words that might mean something.
10. Challenge your sources. Contradict them a little. Don’t accept the easy explanation. Say you don’t understand, say it doesn’t make sense from what you know from other people. Ask them, "How can you be certain?" Let them prove it to you - with more details, other names, any documents.
Contradict just a little. Remember you are not them and you are trying to understand their situation. In sports, winning and losing have different emotions so you better be sensitive to the moment.
ll. Never trust your source, at least not completely. Double - check. Look not only for corroboration, but also for contradictions, for evidence to the contrary. Not even your best source has a perfect memory.
This is absolutely true. Sometimes the very main source will mislead you or give you a made up story, maybe to test your trust factor. But in any case, make sure that you get clarify and confirm if the story is true or you will end up in a lot of trouble. This happened to me actually when my trusted source told me a wild and sad story about his franchise player, though I suspected it not to be true coz I see and talk to him most of the time during games and practice, still I didn't not get the keyboard out and type the story. As it turned out, it wasn't true.
12. Don’t socialize with reporters all the time. Socialize with people whose stories have not already been print. Remember all the friends you ever met. Sometimes the person you once dated in college will grow up to be a top official of the Justice Department. Never underestimate any one as a potential source.
Bottomline is, always be nice to people each day. It really pays to be nice.
13. If you want to protect your sources, don’t tell anyone, particularly your fellow reporters who are (with the exception of you) the worst blabbermouths in the world. If you want a sensitive source to talk with you, he or she has to decide whether to trust you. And your word must be golden. A bad reputation will quickly ruin even the best reporter.
If you hear another story, let's say by accident, from someone other than your source, it's great to hear them, fine. That's their prerogative. Just do not tell them that you have something. It's not you don't want to share or anything, it's just a matter of courtesy to your source that he told you something. They talked to you.
14. You set the rules, and you clarify the terms on which you’re talking. If this is background, or not-for-attribution, make certain you and the source have same definitions of that, and recognize that the information will be used. It’s up to you to avoid misunderstanding. Spell out the terms, if necessary, at the outset so you both understand them. Don’t take off-the-record information — that’s unusable in any form, and let your sources know that. Most of them want to tell you something anyway, and will do so, at the least, on a background basis that allows you to pursue confirmation elsewhere. Don’t let the source change the rules at the end of the evening. Your job is to tell stories to the public, not to your grandchildren someday.
It sounds, looks simple to set the tone especially if its a sensitive issue. You can arm yourself with a questionnaire if you want, my advice is to keep it as simple as possible and make your source some more.
15. Give your worst enemy a fair shake. Always give someone his or her best defense in the printed story. Even if you don’t believe it, let the readers have a chance to judge for themselves. You may earn the person’s respect. He or she may even tell you the full story later on.
Definitely, you will hear varying opinions about a certain issue. This happened to me when i heard both sides talk about their stand on a player eligibility issue. The player came from the same school that I went to but as a reporter/columnist, you should learn how to detach yourself from your loyalty to your alma mater or institution and give your best presentation on the matter as possible. Let public opinion stand out.
16. Be cruel. This is the unwritten rule. When all is done but not yet said - let the facts fall where they may. You have no friend now. You are a reporter – tell the truth. But don’t pass judgment on people unnecessarily. You’re a reporter, not GOD. Let the people’s deeds speak for themselves.
Just present the facts and if you have some emotional attachments to the people surrounding the story, don't let it get in the way.
17. Always say thank you at the end of the day. Go back when the story is over and say thank you again. Say thank you to sources even when nothing is happening. An honest thank you is as rare and as encouraging as a good listener.
You don't have to send them a gift either. Just do your job and be a responsible journalist.
18. Keep trying. Keep working. It is the drudgery of making sure of details that uncovers the unexpected. A sage of this profession has said, "I’ve met a lot of lucky reporters. I’ve never known a single lazy lucky reporter."
In this line of work, there are no shortcuts. If you think you are not successful, be patient, your time will come.