Investigative Journalism -Week 4
Sources: Human Sources
Andy Bull- The Insider
A good way to understand how journalists/producers and sources work together is to watch the Michael Mann film ‘The Insider’ (starring Russell Crowe and Al Pacino).
It is a movie, yes. But the script is based on a real-life story of a tobacco industry whistleblower called Jeffrey Wigand.
The film is partly based on an optioned Vanity Fair article about Wigand’s case.
NYU Guide to Human Sources
A human “source” is roughly defined as a person who contributes information to a piece of reportage, whether or not it is ultimately published or aired in any venue — print, the Internet, radio (audio podcasts included), video on a news report on television, the Web or in a documentary film.
Journalists should seek to be fair and truthful in reporting what their sources tell them. Factual accuracy entails checking, and double-checking, facts and fairness involves working diligently to get myriad sides of a story by speaking to multiple sources with different and often varying points of view. When appropriate, journalists should make a judicious attempt to balance “establishment” experts — spokespeople for think tanks, foundations, and the like — with knowledgeable sources from outside “official” culture. Fairness also means adhering to the “no surprises” rule when writing critically of someone: affording the source the opportunity to answer allegations or criticisms before publishing the work.
Test Hypothesis v.s Sources
First Contact- How?
-Contact at home,at work or some other place?
-Who will know you have made contact?
Does Motive Matter?
GET THE MATERIAL
MAKES SURE IT IS A PERSON WHO REALLY KNOWS, OR CAN ACCESS MATERIAL
OR CAN INTRODUCE YOU TO THE PERSON WHO CAN
PROTECT THEM IF THEY ARE THE ONLY PERSON WHO KNOWS IT/CAN ACCESS IT
Smart? or Naive?
BE THE EXPERT? (IF YOU KNOW)
OR BE NAÏVE – CAN ASK ANY QUESTION AT ALL, TREAT ME LIKE AN IDIOT
‘CONSULTANT’ TO YOUR WORK
BRING PRESS CLIPPINGS – HEY, ARE THEY CORRECT? PLSE EXPLAIN
BE CIVIL, DON’T BE INTIMIDATED
BE CLEAR – eg I AM RECORDING THIS INTERVIEW (FOR ACCURACY) ??????
INTERVIEWEE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND, NOR YOUR ENEMY
PREPARE QUESTIONS IN ADVANCE, OR QUESTION AREAS
FIND FRESH QUESTIONS
LET THEM SPEAK THEIR MIND – NEW ANGLES?
RETURN TO QUESTIONS – CAN HELP THEM TO RECALL
Off the Record
PROMISE NOT TO USE THE INFORMATION GIVEN BY YOUR SOURCE
UNLESS YOU CAN GET THE SAME INFORMATION FROM ANOTHER SOURCE ENTIRELY
ESTABLISH WHAT THE SOURCE REALLY WANTS
“I WANT THIS OFF-THE-RECORD”
DO THEY REALLY MEAN? “YOU CAN USE THIS INFO BUT NAME ME IN THE ARTICLE”?
Graduate Multimedia Journalist, Online Editor at CIO UK and contributing writer at Culturefly and Contact Music.