Friday, May 16, 2008

One source? Heaven forbid!

I recently got chided for making this statement in a forum for freelance journalists:
To a writer who was doubting her ability to ratchet up her writing to two or three "stories" a day, I said: "Lot of papers that need multiple stories need many of them to be 500 words or so, and just one source is often fine."
Here's what one writer told me: "Journalism 101 is three sources, period. Less than that and it's a brief."
Call it a fat brief or what you want, but I'm saying that at a community newspaper, or in a trade publication, or any number of other spots, a one-source story is a reality.
No, it's not your diet, any more than a drive-through Big Mac is a healthy way to dine on a regular basis.
When I do national cover stories for a very cool trade pub, I have 10 sources minimum. Minimum.
For an inflight magazine, I did a profile of a major sporting celeb that was just him. One source.
I've done profiles for several trade pubs that were looking for just that: one on one.
When I did regional pieces for a major daily (prior to going back to weekly editing) I did two or three at least. Three was better, sometimes two was all that was possible.
When I do preview pieces about upcoming events for a small-mid daily or the weekly I edit, if I can only get one because I'm doing multiple stories and that's what there's time for, that's how I roll. When you're doing an avalanche of stories, sometimes that's how it goes.
Check out the thread where this debate is going on here:
I'd love to hear what you think about one-source stories.

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