Thursday, May 12, 2005

Check your sources, editors are watching

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Make sure your sources are correct - and will back up what you print. The Ethics Police are waiting in media grass to pull you over for any infractions.

In my personal blog, I wrote this morning about a columnist at the Sacramento Bee newspaper who was sacked for allegedly making up some people she featured in her column. Did she do it? Doesn't matter.

But what does matter, writers, is that you make sure your sources are locked down tight because if you write for the print media, people (editors) care about this kind of thing. If you are involved in broadcast, the rules are a little looser.

I keep several notebooks with sources lists and dates of contact and all the stuff most of you do, too. But I also keep my notes from interviews for a long time - sometimes years - because I don't want any crap to rain down on me for some petty detail someone takes issue with.

And, as much as I hate the damn things, I think I'm going to start taperecording my interviews.

OP-ED IDEA FOR TODAY - The United Airlines pension scandal is hitting all the front pages, but there a literally thousands of small pension funds that might be in trouble, more due to fiscal mismanagement than anything else. Find a person whose retirement income might be threatened (make sure they exist, please!) and use them as the lead-in to talking about the larger problem of their pension fund. This will require some backgrounding on defined benefit plans and how they work. But after all, you're going to retire someday aren't you?

For the blog about the Sacramento Bee columnist, see:

  • Michael's Blog