Mike Allen of Politico – long one of Washington’s top reporters – took a brief timeout near the end of today’s Politico Playbook to offer the following advice to aspiring political reporters. This sage counsel, inspired by recent reporting on the debt debate, should be considered nothing short of a public service:
PLAYBOOK MEMO TO YOUNG JOURNOS – This episode reminds us that: 1) Including other points of view strengthens, not weakens, your article. Readers are sophisticated, and get that the world isn’t black and white. They’re more likely to trust and article that reflects life’s complexity. Excellent pieces are undermined, or lose big prizes, over this exact issue.
2) Sometimes there are creative ways to obtain the same material with fewer restrictions.
3) Referring to a single source in multiple ways doesn’t serve your reader. Gotta pick a clear, accurate description for each unnamed source and stick with it. So on second reference, it’s “the official,” not “an official,” which makes it sound like someone different.