Contacts are very important for all journalists and reporters. A contact is the person or persons whom a journalist contacts for information on a news story or feature that they are working on. The importance of contacts to a journalist cannot be stressed upon enough.
A journalist can never excel in their career without a long and diverse list of contacts they can easily reach. Without good contacts it is going to be very difficult for a journalist or reporter to get good news stories or even to write good features which are very vital in growing a journalist’s career.
The contacts can range from people such as health practitioners, members of parliament, ministers, pastors, musicians, police officers, public relation officers of major companies, activists, other journalists, religious groups, pressure groups, footballers, economists and more. The contacts are literally any important person from which news or information can be gotten from.
But being on the outside looking in, non-indigenous reporters can’t really access indigenous communities enough to network and this is simply natural. If trust isn’t cultivated, who is to say that a “random reporter,” won’t go and twist and warp any given story. And indigenous communities and people are generally where the news is because we’re constantly entangled in battles for sovereignty, protests, and tussles with the government.
Thus, inexperienced indigenous reporters are often used for their contacts, and if they work outside of their communities, they are sometimes punished for their connections to indigenous communities because their writing is then deemed biased.
This sentiment was shared by a journalist based out of Vancouver and it is one that the writers at the Two Row Times know well.
Often, news outlets will reach out and ask for our connections and the emails are ignored because who are we to give out those contacts.
Its a simple rule that in order for a journalist to get a good contact — it takes time.
Before a journalist or reporter can even get a real contact that will supply him or her with relevant stories and information, there is the need for a close relationship to exist between the journalist and the contact.
In other words, instead of going to an indigenous news publication to get started, non-indigenous reporters should be forced to do the leg work and get to know the people they want to write about.
They should have to prove themselves, just like we have to.