Andrea Rondeau column: We will talk to other people, too

I was surprised by a call a few weeks ago from someone who was angry about a story we’d written after she had called and told us about a story she wanted to get out to the public.

One of her major issues seemed to be that the reporter had spoken not just to her, but to another source for the story. This was clearly a source she did not agree with and she was upset that we’d used this second source in the story. This surprised me because I’d spoken to this person on a number of occasions in the past and written stories involving her on a separate subject. I believed from this past experience that she understood that we would likely not just be speaking to her for the story.

In journalism, we try as a matter of course, if possible, to have more than one source for any given story. Whether that’s an expert, an official, or someone from the opposite side of an argument, we will try to get hold of them. If the story is from an official source to start with, sometimes that means we’ll try to get comment from someone non-official. But the fact remains, if you call us up and tell us about something, especially if it’s something interesting or controversial, you should be prepared that we are going to call someone besides you.

Going beyond the single source story is what journalists are trained to try to do. Getting another perspective on an issue or event broadens the story — most of the time, it just makes for better copy. Sometimes it’s about balance, of course, but sometimes it’s just about making a story more interesting or informative. Often, finding another source helps the reporter to better understand what they’re writing about.

There can be such a thing as false balance, where two arguments or opinions are given equal weight when one does not actually deserve it, and we try to steer clear of that as well. Doing so can come down to the judgement of the reporter or me, as editor. We also don’t usually need to talk to 20 different people for a 400 word article. The result would just be chaotic and cut up, rather than provide additional insight. That’s also a matter of judgement. If I still have outstanding questions when I read a piece I do ask the reporter to try to get hold of another source for those answers. I figure if I’m asking these questions, chances are a reader will as well.

It comes down to the fact that a news or even feature story, as opposed to a column or letter, isn’t solely about your single viewpoint.

Just Posted

Duncan Minds in Motion program has space available

Minds in Motion runs on five Monday afternoons beginning on May 27

Anticipation building for trip to D-Day anniversary for Chemainus students

Experience of being there promises to be a memorable one

Retired teacher’s generosity provides huge opportunity for two Chemainus Secondary students

Blitterswyk and Brown looking forward to being at Juno Beach for 75th anniversary of D-Day

Breakers battle into girls soccer provincials

Kelsey takes aim at top-eight finish

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Christmas morning burglar sentenced on Vancouver Island

Justin Redmond Feusse, 20, sentenced to 240 days in jail for Dec. 25 break-and-enter

So, do you know ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’?

Ontario man searching for fellow he travelled with in Europe 50 years ago

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

Most Read