It’s not easy being a journalist. During my days as a reporter, I always appreciated sources who made my job easier.
A useful perspective in many a media training workshop involves a primer on what a reporter’s day is like. Their challenges range from incredible deadline pressures to gruff editors to poor sources. There may not be much you can do about the first two factors. The third, however, rests in your hands.
I often begin a media training session by asking participants for a one-word answer summing up their attitude toward the press. I can tell you from first-hand experience, there are a lot of negative vibes toward journalists.
Here’s how I put it in perspective for my clients: The reporter wants a good story; you have a good story to tell. What a perfect match! Give the reporter your good story and watch the odds of a positive outcome for your organization increase.
It is important that you, as a news source, understand how reporters’ roles are shifting within their own operations. For instance, Reporters today face an added stress: The rapid pace of change. Staff cutbacks in newsrooms large and small have led news organizations to try to do more work with fewer people. The combination of public mistrust, layoffs, and budget cuts have made reporting as hard as ever.
It is true that some news outlets don’t train their reporters very well, for training is the often first place publishers look to cut. In many cases, particularly at smaller outlets, reporters can take advantage of ongoing education solely on their own time and on their own dime.
Yes, this makes your job as a news source more challenging. For instance, you may have to explain matters in greater depth to a cub reporter who lacks even the most basic understanding of your issues. It’s no secret that many people take offense and harbor antagonism toward reporters. I strongly advise you not to let that show.
Consider how you can advance the goals of your organization by gaining a greater understanding of the challenges reporters face and, where appropriate, helping them rise to those challenges.
What has been your experience with the changing newsroom in recent years?