Getting Sources to Talk

Having trouble getting ahold of a source to interview for a story? Don’t lead with the hard stuff.

Professor Ron Stodghill lectured Tuesday morning about conceptualizing long-form stories, especially when it comes to getting sources to talk. There are so many reasons sources might not want to talk: they might be skeptical of the media, they might not care, might not have time, etc. The list can go on and on. However, Stodghill shared some ways in which reporters can go about roadblocks that stand in the way of a story.

First things first, it is important and can be helpful to identify the political and personal interests of your source. Sometimes, leading with an interest of theirs can help put your foot in the door. Be personable, be open, be friendly. They might open up to you and let you in.

Another tip is to appreciate the personal biography of your source and show you have done your homework. This helps the source open up and see you will not waste their time.

Further, as a reporter, you should develop an intelligent account of your reporting path and how it led you to that source. Explaining this can help the source be more media literate, shed light in to your story, and help them understand how to help you. When sources understand your reporting process and aim, it allows for transparency.

These are just a few main tips that stuck out to me during Stodghill’s lecture this morning.