by Diana Flores, 2018 ICLRS Student Fellow
Joel Campbell, an associate teaching professor in journalism at Brigham Young University, moderated this session. The participating panelists were Kristi Stone Hamrick, President of KSH Media, Inc. and Molly Redden, Senior Politics Reporter at Huffington Post.
The discussion focused on ways that religious leaders, lawyers, and other advocates can make themselves reliable sources and create working and functional relationships with reporters. Kristi Stone Hamrick defined a reliable source as someone who fills many roles in the story. She explained that a news story contains multiple roles such as victim, adversary, expert, and advocate. In her point of view, the weakest place in the story is the expert because every person has an area in which he or she is reasonably intelligent. She stated that in order to be an attractive and interesting source, it is important to layer your involvement and engagement with the issues. The more roles you play in the story that show your expertise, the more likely you will be involved in the story and sought after as a source.
Molly Redden further elaborated that an advocate can be an attractive source by having a strong presence and being available. She explained that a lot of source making occurs by those that show up high on an internet search or seem like they have expertise or are readily available to talk about the topic. She emphasized that if you have a desire to be a source, you need to make it clear to the world that you have expertise on the issues and that you have something to say.
The panelists further discussed the importance of building long-term relationships with reporters. Kristi Hamrick explained that if a source is helpful, the reporter will come back to that source. Molly Redden argued that reporters are competitors and do not like to write the same story as other publications. She explained that when sources have stories with a beginning, middle, and end or surprises, reporters will fight over that source. She challenged the audience to surprise reporters.