Transparency is so important
Ever since I was introduced into the journalism world four years ago, I have realized that the most important thing for any entity when dealing with media outlets big or small is being open and honest.
Over the course of the last few years, I have realized that the best relationships I have built with sources were with people who always had an open dialogue with the press.
Although a lot of what community journalism is to report on positive things like proms, high school sports and different community events, the reality is that I have reported on some very serious news over the past two years since living in Minnesota, sometimes being the one to break the news before bigger media outlets.
Some of these things included a police officer shooting and killing a suspect in a crime, a double murder of a wife and step-child, fires, and a failed school referendum attempt just to name a select few of the many hard newsworthy things that I have covered.
It was during these most difficult times for entities that I learned what kind of relationships I had with my particular sources and believe me when I say this that some of the relationships I had were phenomenal and some not good at all.
The biggest difference in having a positive relationship and a toxic one comes down to one thing and that’s whether or not a source is willing to give media relevant information in a timely manner.
The way I look at it as a journalist is this. If an entity or person is “hiding information” or not being forthcoming with information, whether intentionally or unintentionally, then there is probably a reason for it.
As a journalist, when this happens, it triggers our curiosity just a little bit more and makes even more eager to do what we do and that is to find the truth and report on it.
But what’s my point?
My point is this. If your in some sort of role where you are dealing with the media, either in a positive situation or negative one, then I would highly encourage you to be open and honest with reporters. In a perfect world it would be best to get out your message out there to reporters before they even have to ask. This can be done in a number of different ways whether it’s through a press release or simple heads up email. By doing this you’ll get a lot better results when you are looking for press in good situations, and when it comes to “bad news” then you will have the trust of the local media, and by getting your message out first to the media then you are able to help ensure that facts are in the hands of reporters who in return can inform the community about what is happening.
For the everyday folks who don’t work with the media in an official capacity I also would encourage you to help the public discourse by letting your public officials know that you want them to be as transparent as possible so in return you can be more informed community members.
As a journalist my only goal is to be able to inform the public about what is going on in the most in-depth way possible and my hope is that for entities their goal is the same.