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Open Thread: How Far Would You Go for a Story?
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Last week, I had a particularly tough time contacting a source. My editor wanted quotes ASAP from a certain professor who's notoriously tough to pin down. I tried all the usual avenues: emailing (no response), calling (mailbox was full), calling the professor's assistant (who wished me luck and told me the professor handles his own scheduling), and contacting the university's PR department (which didn't have his home phone number). But I don't give up easily, so I asked a few fellow freelancers what they'd do in my shoes. One suggested Facebook. I'd thought about this but didn't want to appear too stalkerish. Screw it, I thought. I'm not letting this story slip through my fingertips. So, I friended him on Facebook and sent a short, polite message explaining why I wanted to get in touch with him. He didn't write back. I scanned his limited profile for clues. Among his favorite activities (I kid you not!) were the words, "being unreachable." Great. Another freelancer suggested I find his address and go ring his doorbell or camp out in front of his house until he'd answer a few questions. I actually entertained this notion and found two different addresses listed online. But, in case you haven't been following the weather in New England, it is C-O-L-D and snowy and not at all camping-out-on-a-source's-doorstep weather. Not to mention the fact that I'd prefer not to get a restraining order. So, I emailed my editor listing all of the methods I'd tried to reach this source and suggesting we focus on our efforts on finding a new expert. He agreed. UPDATE: This professor was the only one with direct information on the story, so we'd agreed to broaden the focus and get an expert with more general information. Then, lo and behold, I get an email from the original professor today, just as I'm finishing up the piece. So, I emailed him my questions and finally got the info I wanted. How's that for serendipity? All this raises an interesting question. How far would you go for a story? Have you camped out on a source's doorstep? Called and called until you reached your source? Tracked them down using social media? Leave a comment and let us know! Flickr photo courtesy of GiantsFanatic

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Open Thread: How Far Would You Go for a Story? + Tips & Tricks