Don’t Lie

People lie all the time.

You can call it whatever you want, but a lie is a lie.

Many people think white lies aren’t real lies, but I disagree.

In this profession, you don’t want to be known as a liar. Whether they already hate you or not, sources will not put up with that.

I haven’t lied to anyone yet, that I can think of right now. I don’t want to set that precedent because I know that it would bite me sooner than my next story.

With lying, you lose all credibility and, frankly, I don’t think anyone would want to talk to you. That’s not how you want to present yourself or your paper. You have to think about your actions before you do anything. I’m not saying walk on egg shells, but remind yourself of what could happen.

For me, I tell sources, angry or not, what the deal is and why I may be pursuing a story they may not like.

A part of this job is to piss people off and ask the tough questions. My editors say you aren’t doing your job unless someone’s mad at you.

My thinking is that if I’m upfront with sources, they’ll listen to what I’m saying and calm down faster. It’s a loose try, but, so far, it’s worked. It’s not a complete science.

As a reporter, you almost have to go behind people’s backs, at times, to make sure certain things aren’t “dirty” or “corrupt.” That’s just a part of the job. Most of the time, people don’t understand that, which is fine. You have a job to do.

It’s nothing more than that. If someone won’t tell you exactly what’s been going on, then you have to go and find out for yourself.

In our small towns, many aren’t used to a full-time beat reporter  going around and digging things up that haven’t been discussed for 30 years. That’s okay, but you still have to do it.

The more forward you are with them, the better it will be. I feel this goes for any beat reporter. I don’t care who you are talking to, either. It’s never a goo idea to lie.

That’s your reputation on the line.

Jonathan

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3 Responses to Don’t Lie

  1. opiningquill says:

    Just as important as truth is for a reporter so is balance and presentation. The truth can be twisted if there is bias in the presentation. Truth alone will not earn you trust it will be your entire body of work and the presentation of that truth that will be your legacy.

    • Hey,

      You’re completely right.

      The presentation is key. It’s something that takes time to learn and editors to guide a writer through.

      It’s hugely important and could ruin a reporter’s credibility if things go awry.

      Presentation cannot be taken lightly. It’s role is integral to a newspaper.

      Jonathan

  2. Pingback: Getting People to Stop Talking (While on Deadline) | Just Starting Out

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