Getting sources in our profession can be one of the most challenging things to accomplish.
A journalist covering immigration, for example, would have the toughest time gaining the trust of immigrants, legal or not, because they always worry about their status in this country.
Gloria Padilla, San Antonio Express-News columnist, said when she started as a court reporter, she was fortunate enough to establish sources.
“Dogging them and visiting day in and day out, I had to show my face. That way they got used to me being there,” Padilla said.
“You have to deliver on your promises in order for you to gain their trust,” she added. “When they gave me information off the record, it remained off the record until they were ready.”
“They learn to trust you by what you do for them,” Padilla said. “It snowballs and you build up a base.”
She said if there was an embargo on a story for a certain time, a reporter has to honor that.
Lomi Kriel, San Antonio Express-News police beat reporter, said that getting police officers to talk to the media can be difficult, and getting supervising officers to talk on the record is almost impossible.
Padilla said a journalist should always treat sources as acquaintances, not friends.
“You should always keep it professional with your sources and never cross that line,” she said. “I enjoyed their acquaintance but not their friendship.”
Padilla said on some occasions she had to report on stories that involved some of her sources in a negative way.
“A couple of them actually cried but understood that I had to do my job,” Padilla added.
Padilla said she tells her sources who got in trouble it is better if they came clean, and told her before it happened because it would be less problematic for them.
“They were professionals and understood that,” Padilla said.