The Source Whisperer
Sources are one of the most valuable resources for a journalist. Without sourced information, the reports produced may end up being padded with rumour and personal opinion. The following is my tip sheet - "The Source Whisperer" - where I set out how I have interviewed suspects or criminals in the course of my investigative journalism in order to unearth valuable information.
20 source scenarios
Or, the importance of not giving up - but please stay safe.
- He gives you videotapes of the crime taking place, confesses on camera and names his accomplices.
- She confesses on camera, names her accomplices and takes you to the scene of the crime.
- He confesses on camera and names his accomplices.
- She confesses on camera and takes you to the scene of the crime.
- He confesses on camera with full face.
- She confesses on camera in silhouette or otherwise disguised.
- He confesses off camera and gives you permission to use the confession.
- She gives you important information about the case, but off camera.
- He goes on camera, full face, but doesn’t confess. He either lies or refuses to answer.
- She goes on camera in silhouette or otherwise disguised, but she lies or refuses to answer.
- He allows you to videotape him walking or working, but doesn’t sit down for an interview.
- She provides you with photographs or video of herself and gives you permission to use them.
- He confirms information unrelated to his actual involvement, i.e. information about others.
- She confirms that, indeed, there’s an investigation, but will not comment on it.
- He will not talk on the record, but draws you a map that leads you to important information.
- She will not talk on the record, but confirms that she is, indeed, the person you’re looking for.
- He will not talk on the record now, but leaves the door open to talk later.
- She will not talk on the record, but will allow you to call again.
- He will not even talk to you, but doesn’t threaten your life.
- She will not even talk to you, except to threaten your life.
Image courtesy of Mario Sixtus and released under Creative Commons