The Backbone of Investigative Journalism—Contacts
Anytime I consider a pitch for this class or how I am going to go about writing an article my main concern is always who I can use as sources. Since journalists are not supposed to let their opinion enter the article, the journalist needs to have many quotes from many sides of an issue. Since we are not writing for a real paper, it is doubly difficult to find people willing to take time from their busy schedules and talk to some random college student for an article that will never be published. While some people will graciously and kindly take time out of their busy day to help a student-journalist out, others simply don’t have the time to do so. This is when knowing a variety of people comes in handy. People that you know are obviously going to be more willing to talk to you. Furthermore, in some cases, you may not even know that there is an opportunity for a story if you don’t have contacts to clue you in to it. Nowhere are these contacts more important than in investigative journalism. Without multiple reliable sources to tip you off, help get you information, and point you to other people to talk to it would be almost impossible to write a good article. It helps make me appreciate how hard it must be to start out as a new journalist in a new place without any contacts at all. It would take a good amount of time and care to make and retain these contacts. The News Manual explains, “We cannot stress often enough how important a journalist's contacts are. These are the people who can give you story ideas, information and tell you when you are on the wrong track. Make as many contacts as you can - and look after them as you would a friend.” As a student with few contacts, I can really understand how important it is to have contacts and how difficult it would be for new journalists.