It is tempting to claim that it has become a sport to blame failure on technology, instead of the human using it.
I did not get the quotes I wanted from the source, therefore it is not my fault, it is this damn email thingy.
PEBKAC – Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair.
Sometimes it is in an unfiltered facial expression. Sometimes it is in the pauses between what is vocalized. Most of the time the truth is found somewhere between the unrefined, genuine thoughts of the people who make the campus what it is, and that is what we hope to provide you with.
This over-confident attitude needs to wither away and never emerge again!
The most powerful weapon a journalist has to uncover lies and deceptions are their researching skills. The ability to take what a source has said and fact-check the shit out of it.
Unless you have a Ph.D in behavioural psychology with 10 years of experience in the field, and additional 10 years of experience as a profiler for a law agency, you need to accept that just talking to people does not make you into an infallible human lie detector.
That you think you are infallible will actually make you more prone to overlook lies. Because if you don’t notice someone lying to you, your over-confidence will tell you they are telling the truth.
If the paper’s reporters do interview a source via email, they’ll let readers know in the story.
By doing this, they are actually legitimising the critique of email, making readers believe it is a lesser news story because of the technology used. The paper and the journalist suddenly have a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card, absolving them, presumably, from any critique or mistakes that might arise.
It should not matter how you communicated with your source. If what you report is accurate, and enjoyable for the reader to consume, then that is what matters.
By contrast, J-School Buzz — an independent blog about the University of Missouri’s Journalism School – said last year that the J-School “needs to embrace email interviews” more often because they “are more convenient for sources and journalists” and “guarantee accurate quotes.”
If you replace ‘email interviews’ with ‘an online version of the paper’ it puts the issues in perspective newspapers are dealing with right now – not adapting quick enough to the Internet. Showing that it is not really the technology that is the issue, regarding both email and online presence, but willingness to adopt it and utilise it correctly.
This is not unique to journalism, but any kind of field where not adopting to new technology might be a bad choice, letting anyone willing to adapt and adopt get way ahead of your business.
Unfortunately it is much easier to get away with blaming your shortcomings on technology, rather than your own possible shortcomings.
Even if you are a people person, someone that often can read some people like an open book, please keep in mind that you are fallible. To compensate for your possible fallibility, fact-check your source’s claims. And even if there might not be a need to fact-check, still do it, just for the sake of accuracy and honing your skills as a journalist.
We humans have changed how we communicate since we uttered the first grunt, painted the first cave, and it continues to change. That is something you, as a journalist, must keep in mind. Adapt with it, find out how you can better benefit from it as a journalist. The better you become in communicating with sources in different ways, the better you will be at gathering information from sources you interview.
As a journalist you must be careful with limiting yourself – be flexible.