Our reporters and editors talk to lots and lots of people every day, and I don’t think we give much thought to how they feel about it.
We call up people to get information, their insights and sometimes their opinions about something that is newsworthy. It is routine for us.
From that information, we craft articles about what we learned and pass it on to our readers. We hope it adds clarity. We hope our readers learn something. We know we often do.
The whole process seemed simple enough to me, so I never gave too much thought to how our sources react when we give them a call.
Apparently, it can be a source of anxiety for some.
This past week I stumbled onto an article from a marketing firm’s website where it laid out “10 terrific tips for talking to reporters.”
I was intrigued.
First, I was surprised there was a need for such an article, and then taken aback by the author’s first piece of advice: “Proceed with caution.”
If that meant being careful to give out information that is accurate and thoughtful, then I was fine with it, but then came the accusation that “some reporters are seeking a predetermined answer.”
That was followed by this frightening account from the author, who works at a marketing firm:
“In a worst-case scenario, aggressive journalists will hammer away at you with loaded or biased questions. The point is to wear you down until the answer they seek is provided. Don’t fall prey to this trap. Sometimes all it takes is one slip of the tongue for your words to be taken out of context and used against you.”
I had no idea we were so awful, and the sarcasm is intentional.
No professional reporter would last long in this business if that is how they approached their job. Simply, no one would trust them and no one would talk to them.
I couldn’t help but wonder if articles such as this are part of the reason we don’t get more cooperation from some of our sources. Thankfully, we have good relationships with most people and I believe they trust us.
Still, it is frustrating when some don’t call us back or answer our emails.
So when you see a reporter write that someone did not call them back or respond to an email multiple times, it is to show that they tried to get the whole story, that they tried to get as much information as possible, not because we are trying to be jerks.
Our reporters live and work in our communities, and they are trying to do the best job they can to get their stories as accurate as possible.
They need help to do that.
Tracking those tweets
The Committee to Protect Journalists has begun tracking one of our biggest critics — the president of the United States.
Through Wednesday of last week, President Donald Trump had sent out 1,339 tweets about the media. About 1 of every 10 of the president’s 5,400 tweets as president have either “insulted or criticized journalists and outlets, or condemned or denigrated the news media as a whole.”
I suspect my profession leads all others in that regard.
More than half of the president’s critical tweets about the media have included the term “fake news.”
The president continues to do a great disservice to the hard-working men and women who report news for a living — like the ones at our newspaper — on the front lines of their communities.
And that’s not right.
New member of board
The Post-Star editorial board welcomed a new member this week with the addition of Jean Aurilio of South Glens Falls.
Jean was born in Glens Falls, grew up in Dresden and attended Whitehall schools. She graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.
She lived in Fort Edward for over 30 years while teaching a foreign language at Hudson Falls. She is currently retired but working as a substitute teacher.
Jean has two adult children and three grandchildren. One son attended the Naval Academy, the other the Air Force Academy.
Jean replaces Jackson LaSarso, who resigned his position on the editorial board.