As college sports journalists, having reliable sources is a rarity. With the way that sports information directors train and script athlete’s interactions with the media combined with a lack of access, it becomes tough to find transparency in many college programs.
During my time covering collegiate athletics, I’ve had a challenging time sourcing with anyone that’s not a fellow journalist, and that’s why I think our session with New York Times White House correspondent Zolan Kanno-Youngs was so important.
Kanno-Youngs, a member of the 2015 SJI class, gave some great insight on how to find reliable sources as we go on throughout our careers.
One of, if not the biggest key that Kanno-Youngs gave to us about finding good sources is by simply being present, show the person that your effort is genuine, and they’ll be more willing to speak to you.
Whether it be meeting a local official at his normal hangout or showing up at an event meaningful to your source, all of it plays a role in helping to develop meaningful and understanding relationships with the people/athletes that we’ll be covering in the future.
However, Kanno-Youngs also made sure to remind us that while being present is essential to sourcing, fortifying a relationship should never come in the way of fair and honest reporting and that there’ll always be a risk of alienating a source due to said reporting.
The solution to that problem, keep showing up, keep being present because we need a reliable presence to keep them to gain a reliable source.