A few other suggestions:
- Talk with your notebook closed, not open as if you’re cop. (“A notebook is not a weapon,” he said.) Deal with people at a human level before breaking out a pad.
- Notice the smaller details, something that establishes a journalist’s voice.
- Get new information for readers (and verify all the facts). “If you get the facts wrong the first time, I wouldn’t use you again,” he said.
- As a young journalist, don’t bother veteran journalists trying to do their jobs. Instead, keep your ears open, your mouth shut and “work your ass off” for the first five years – including weekends.
- Don’t try to befriend sources – especially if they’re politicians.
- Verify facts. Is it a boulevard or a place? What was the victim’s occupation? What are the correct spellings and addresses of people who get arrested or injured?