‘Source Development’: Survey Shows Big Majority of Reporters Prefer Phone over Zoom with Sources; One-Third Ready for In-Person Meetings

David Wells  Follow

Reporters make good company. They traffic in facts, but are full of opinions and they love to share them. For proof, check Twitter or buy them a drink (just be a good source and don’t let them tweet after the drinks).

This chattiness means reporters are fun to survey too, so we spent the last few weeks talking to more than 80 of them to find out what’s going on with the people writing the first rough draft of the history of this pandemic.

One key result: they need new sources. They’re wondering what stories they are missing and think you might have ideas.

If you are looking for a new thing to do with your previous time spent commuting, we recommend calling a reporter. Give them something interesting to write about. They’ll fill you in with gossip and what’s coming up in the world in return.

You’ll both be the better for it and so will their readers. Arthur Miller once said that: “A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.” But for that to happen, the citizens of that nation have to talk to a reporter first.

If you’re feeling brave after a few calls and your relationship is growing, ask the reporter if they want to go for a walk or grab a coffee or an adult libation.

Here in New York, there are plenty of opportunities for socially distanced social time. Thirty-four percent of the reporters we spoke to are ready for in person meetings and 11 percent of them are in the office, if you want to visit.

If you’re away from the city, they might be too. While most reporters might work in Manhattan, many of them live in Brooklyn or Brooklyn West (Montclair, Maplewood, South Orange, etc.). Check to see if they are in your town or close-by. Wherever they are, they’ll know (or find) the best place to eat or drink.

One last bit of advice is to make the first call a voice call, as 73 percent prefer the tried-and-true method to a video call. 

It’s easier to take notes when someone isn’t watching. 

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