Be able to hold your own with sources.
As journalists, we strive to master broad domains of information. We often seek the expertise of specialists who might have a greater grasp of facts within their specialty. Our challenge is not to be dependent on what any particular source tells us, but to have enough mastery of our subject that we can accurately situate each source’s knowledge and perspective within a broader context. This means we strive to know enough about a subject that we can tell when a source is advocating a disputed position, advancing a vested interest or making a faulty claim.
Daily reporting might require a different threshold of knowledge than long-term investigative reporting, but the general principle holds true in that context as well: we strive to know enough to hold our own with those we talk to.
October 24, 2011