Site MapHelpFeedbackExercise 4-1.4
Exercise 4-1.4
(See related pages)

Interviews > Self-check: Subject-contact guidelines

In pursuit of stories, some journalists have been known to act in ways that give a bad reputation to the rest of us. Run through this checklist to make sure you're not crossing a line that shouldn't be crossed. You may work with a digital or hard copy version of this checklist.
Self-Check (47.0K)

  • Remember that observing is not stalking. Be careful observing students before they know they are the focus of your story — and avoid invading your source's privacy.

  • Be polite on the phone and in person. Always explain who you are and what your purpose is. Say "please" and "thank you" and leave coherent, tactful messages.

  • Be mindful of cultural differences and the concept of cultural relativism. Different isn't necessarily wrong. It's just different. Be prepared to enter a different world with an open mind. Avoid having preconceived notions about your subject, regardless of what other students may tell you.

  • Maintain a professional distance. This is not a journalism dating service. You may find yourself in a position of power. Don't abuse it.

  • Avoid compromising situations. Your first in-person meeting with your subject — and perhaps all of your meetings — should be in a public place.

  • If your subject decides not to cooperate after you have begun your research, see your instructor before you agree to cutting off your project. If you discover your subject is a murderer, would it be right to just drop the story?

  • Pause before agreeing to let your subject read the story before you turn it in. Letting sources in early can open a bottle of worms and is a violation of the staff guidelines for many publications.

  • Keep in mind that you are not dealing with fiction. You are dealing with fact. Don't make up details.

  • In some states, your instructor may be required by law to report all stories of abuse. It might be a good thing to remind your subjects of this.

Harrower, 1eOnline Learning Center

Home > Chapter 4 > Exercise 4-1.4