'SOURCES' IN WRITING A STORY
The sources journalists use are far and wide and are garnered through years of relationship-making, getting drunk in bars with colleagues and meeting new contacts, going to games and getting 'in' with those who work at the club. I have used the following to write a story:
- Past players
- Club Press Office
- Club coaches
- Official website writers
- Fellow journalists
That's a good starting point. I call them, they call me, we text and email etc and if there's information to be shared, it is shared. Football clubs are actually keen sometimes to 'leak' stories to journalists because it is in their best interests to do so. They get to set the agenda, they get the information they want out in the public domain. And journalists get their story.
WHEN SOURCES ARE QUOTED
If someone working for the Chelsea Press Office gives a journalist information and wants it 'off the record' this means they don't want anyone knowing they gave the journalist the story. This could be something like a player injured in training, a player who wants to leave the club and so on. If they release that and it gets back to them, they'll be sacked. End of. So, to get round this, they say they are happy to be quoted as long as their name is kept from the story, so you see this:
"Carlos is unhappy at Manchester City and wants to leave," a source at the club said.
There's your story and the club press officer has got nothing to do with it - he is anonymous. People think that 'a source' in a newspaper article automatically means it's made up but I can assure you, 100% of the places I have worked, a source is always true. On the gossip/news pages of places like the Daily Star, a 'source' or a 'pal' or 'onlooker' is nearly always bullshit. It's the subeditor writing it to make the story sound better.
BUT YOU'RE LYING, DARREN....
I received a tweet yesterday asking me 'who was lying' because numerous journalists were saying different things on the same story. Nobody is lying. Different journalists at different newspapers have different contacts who say different things. That's all it is.
TRUSTING YOUR SOURCES
When someone comes to you with a story, you trust them if you have had a long standing relationship with them. If some knobhead calls the sportsdesk saying Rooney's going to Tranmere, then you put the phone down. It's obviously a wind up. If someone you've never spoken to before comes to you with a story and it's interesting, you meet them and see what they're like. Check out their background. Who do they know? What do they do? Be patient with them and then you may have another 'source'.
When a football writer writes a story, he or she writes it in 100% good faith. If they have a story to report, they do their best to find the facts and report them, as that is what they are paid to do.
That brings us on to 'WHEN SOURCES GO WRONG' ... but I haven't written that yet.
If you feel this is going somewhere, comment at @Darren_Can