Monk Manny's guide to source development and interviewing

Monk Manny's guide to source development and interviewing:
All I ever needed came from The Bible and selling shampoo.

Starting the beat: Know your customer.
Whether you are covering the courthouse, the capitol, police precinct or city hall, you should read clips. Learn who is often quoted. Read the competition; see what they're focused on. Download the previous beat writer(s) for sources. Sales people rarely cold- call a potential customer before doing their homework. Doing this will give you a better idea of what the beat is like.

Out of sight. Out of mind: Leave the bunker!
Successful sellers visit customers. A source is more apt to drop you a dime in person, than pick up the phone and call. You have to walk the building you cover. Start on the first floor and work your way up. Hang out in the elevator, the stairwells. Go to the cafeteria, the water cooler. Sit outside the courtroom or legislators' office. See who visits. Report with your eyes, ears -- even nose.

Everyone is a source.
Now you are in the building. Talk and hand out cards. Shampoo sellers bombard beauty parlors with cards, mailers and chit-chat. You should too. Start with:

Interviewing: Some commandments.

Close the deal.
Every good seller thanks a buyer. Do the same with sources. If a secretary drops you a memo that leads to a story, thank her. You have now deputized a source and they feel like they made a difference. At Mother Herald, sources are categorized: "Friends of Mother, Gold Circle Members or the coveted Herald Angels."

Manny Garcia's (Miami Herald) presentation: NAHJ 2003, New York

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