A helpful toolbox


Be smart, stay safe and use your psychological toolbox to talk to sources. That’s what every student journalist needs to know to cover Tucson, Ariz.

Oh, yeah, and a few other things. Activism runs in the water of this town because of its closeness to the Mexican border. Issues like illegal immigration, human and drug trafficking, development and drought are hot, hot, hot regional issues. As the second-fastest-growing state in the nation, Arizona is rich with story ideas — dead bodies in the desert, its status as the largest port of entry for produce.

Don Hecker

Don Hecker, the New York Times training editor, addresses the institute on Day One.

Don’t finagle information from your sources. Be honest and use the “psychological toolbox” that Don Hecker, the New York Times training editor, mentioned. You might need to coax, cajole or sometimes bully, but remember, each situation is different. Clarify with your source the difference between “off the record” and “background” information. The first is unusable information in any way, shape or form. Background information is not for attribution, but lets you ask better questions to verify information elsewhere. Remember to ask your sources whether you can tape-record the conversation. Otherwise, you’re violating New York Times policy.
1 in 3: Arizona voters who are independent
38%: Latino population in Tucson
22 : Native American tribes in Arizona

— Tracie Morales


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