Monday, January 18, 2021

Relationship with sources key to success

As a journalist, one of the most important things you can have is a strong relationship with your sources. You want to be able to talk to these sources and get information for your stories. For me, this is something I have learned throughout my year as a sports editor.

In sports, you cover a beat, or a certain sport that is assigned to you throughout the season. You interview some of the same people every week and get yourself into a mindset of seeing people repeatedly during that time, whether it is at games or during an interview at a coach’s office. One of the most important things you can do is make sure that the source knows you as more than just a reporter.

The coach of a team knows the most information about what is going on with their players and the team as a whole. If you can gain a good relationship with the head coach, you can get inside information that you couldn’t get as just a random reporter. You can get a feel as to what a coach is feeling like before a game, which is something that happened while I was covering men’s soccer.

As I waited for the game to start, head men’s soccer coach Chris Waterbury walked by and said, “Hello.” He stopped to talk to me and told me he was nervous about the game that day because some people had gone down with injuries and the team was a little beat up. This small bit of information gave me the chance to start my story with that little tidbit to give the reader a more in-depth look into the game that came next.

Waterbury came up and talked to me because I had talked to him every week and got to know him throughout the season. As a sports journalist, I have the ability to get to know my sources as more than just the coach of the team or the players. You get to know more about everything.

The relationship with the source is a key to a good article, a good interview and a good season covering your beat.

I have been able to become successful as a sports writer because I get to know my sources.

If a source feels comfortable with you, it gives you the ability to get deeper into your story and have more than just the regular game coverage. You can get sources to go deeper into certain subjects without worrying what will and will not offend them. You are able to learn what he or she can say and what he or she wants to talk about by being able to read his or her face and body language during an interview.

As I have grown as a reporter, I have learned more about being able to read people. When interviewing anyone, always make sure you try to get to know them. Don’t just jump into the reporting and make the interview go quickly. If you can get to know your source, you will have more answers that just the basic clichés that come out of everyone’s mouth.

Get to know your source, and you will become a better reporter and write better stories.

Email Nick Topping at

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