Habits of Highly Successful Reporters

Shea Anderson / April 3, 2012

By Shea Andersen

Thanks to The Reynolds Center for Business Journalism, we’ve come across a few good habits for business reporters. Any smart public relations professional would be wise to have a read.

Here are a few highlights from their post about business reporters Heidi N. Moore from Marketplace, former Seattle Times reporter David Heath from iWatch, Charles Duhigg from The New York Times, Mei Fong from The Wall Street Journal, and Jonathan Kaufman from Bloomberg.

A few tips, in no particular order, include:

  • From Duhigg: “Really good reporters have a habit of once a day calling someone they’ve never spoken to before. About 80 percent of time, it’s worthless. But 20 percent of the time, the person on other end of call will say, “I’m so glad you called. Here are all the secrets you’ve been looking for.”
  • From Moore: I found that in dealing with people in finance they don’t know what you know but they know if you’re hesitant and they’ll capitalize on that.  If you handle yourself well by saying, here’s the background, here is the preparation I did for this interview, here are my questions, then you can kind of win them over.
  • From Heath: The other thing that probably gets overlooked by most reporters doing this kind of thing is the scour for any kind of lawsuit.  So if you’re looking at a particular company go out and see what lawsuits have been brought against them, go out and see what lawsuits have been brought against the owners of the companies or the executives of the company, go out and see what the background of the executives are.
  • From Fong: You use the “Three-Source Rule.” One source says one thing, and then you try to check it against what other sources are saying. And if it contradicts with one another, one source is not telling the truth perhaps. You never depend on one source.
  • From Kaufman: We want to ask all the hard questions to make sure there are no holes in the story. We have to act as the reader and say ‘What’s missing here? Have we covered all the bases?’ You want to be the in-house critique to make sure before the story runs, we’ve asked all the tough questions so we are not surprised after it runs.

Read the whole post here. And remember just what kind of savvy, intelligence and determination a good reporter will bring to a story.