Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who led the New York Times' landmark investigation into Harvey Weinstein, shared tips with student reporters at the US Techapalooza event. They noted that students often find themselves reporting on tough topics ranging from sexual assault to gun violence. That means speaking to people who have been through difficult experiences.
Even as a veteran reporter, Kantor stresses that she practised the greetings and questions she would ask her sources before the phone calls, knowing she only had a short window to gain trust.
New reporters should remind themselves that they are not doing anything wrong by asking questions. By projecting confidence in themselves and their questions, and showing genuine interest, they can encourage a source to warm up to the journalist.
When working with trauma survivors, Twohey suggested using this sort of language: "I can’t change what’s happened to you in the past, but if we work together, we may be able to put your story to some productive use for other people."
The two also recommended that investigative reporters get into the habit of organising their notes chronologically, even though this may not be the way sources recount events or the way you eventually report the story. Read the extended Q&A on Poynter.