Trust Your Gut


There is no class on gut instincts in college because I would have taken that class.

Even in our regular lives, we all have gut feelings on certain things. We can sometimes tell when someone is lying to us. We can sometimes tell if a situation doesn’t feel right. The list goes on. You can call it a hunch, too, but we all have gut feelings from time to time.

I’ve learned in journalism that you need to trust your gut feelings. Just look at this recent post for proof.

Ask questions that will make people uncomfortable.

You will inevitably be in a situation where you need to ask a question that will piss off a source. It doesn’t matter what the topic is because you still have to ask them the one question that everyone is dying to know the answer to. Hopefully, you have to do it in person. Seeing someone react to a question is obviously a lot easier face-to-face. It’s hard to read someone over the phone. In person you can, at least, see their body language and get a feel for how it bothered or affected them.

Once you get the hang of things, you’ll know what the “must ask” questions are. It’s like riding a bike. The more you do it, the better you get. You’ll know what to ask and when to ask it.

You will have to ask the big questions. If you don’t, who will?

Be persistent

Sometimes a source won’t answer a question or two on a certain topic. That’s fine. That’s completely up to them.

As a journalist, you just get to keep asking them the same questions over and over again. You don’t keep asking at the same interview, but, rather, spread out over a period of time. Follow your gut. Like I said above, you’ll know what the questions are already.

That persistence helps the source to realize that you aren’t going to forget it and, eventually, they may get upset seeing “no comment” by their name in the paper.

Trust Yourself

We all make mistakes. Each gut feeling isn’t 100 percent right. It helps to trust yourself anyway. If something doesn’t seem right, go check it out. It’s that simple. Make a few extra calls the next morning or take a quick ride out somewhere. You could even visit the town hall and talk to some sources. I’m not saying break down doors or call in the mafia, but it doesn’t hurt to look into things that don’t add up. Find answers to your questions.

It could payoff in the end. Plus, what do you have to lose by looking into things? It’s already your job.



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