Overcoming access issues
Tips from the Associated Press Sports Editors conference in Charlotte on overcoming access issues:
There is no substitute for being present.
Different people have different ideas of what “on the record” and “not for attribution” mean. Establish these differences with a source at the beginning of the conversation. This will help avoid confusion and broken trust.
Invest in building relationships with sources, and do it before you “need” anything from them. Take them out to lunch. Just get to know them as people. This includes getting to know non-star athletes and other less-visible personnel.
Traveling to away games is crucial for building sources.
Use Open Records Requests in order to obtain documents, and treat those documents as you would any other source. NCAA violations, budgets, and financial reports, for example, will help you track changes and trends.
Remember, you don’t have to put everything you write down into a story. You don’t have to tweet every piece of information you gather.