Sources

Being in a news reporter’s Rolodex was once a sign of credibility and, even, celebrity. Reporters called sources, often seeking expert comment, including statements of fact as well as opinion. Reporters once had Rolodexes.

Sources, typically, were named in news reports and, more often than not, their relevant credentials presented as a way for the reporter to establish the source’s expertise. Not to mention why readers, listeners and viewers should pay attention to such folks.

Media audiences benefited insofar as the news they read was more likely to be comprehensive, even-handed and, occasionally, colorful, thanks to the source quotes peppering the reporter’s story.

Reporter sources benefited by their exposure in new stories with enhanced credibility, an expanded reputation, and sometimes with attention to the source’s research (otherwise buried or languishing unnoticed in arcane journals read by like-minded individuals), further requests for comment by (other) reporters for other, future stories.

Pitfalls also loomed large for sources. Legitimate grievances include comments taken out of context that reflected poorly on the source. Illegitimate ones include sources who say stupid stuff while on the record with a reporter. Admit it: we all have the occasional stupid thought; the trick is to not voice it when being interviewed for a story.

Either way – good or bad – publicity for the source ensued. Even if not all sources bought into P.T. Barnum’s maxim about PR: I don’t care what you write about me, just spell my name correctly.

Once upon a time, my name was in at least one reporter’s Rolodexes. I’m pretty sure it was filed under “good for a quote” and not some particular content area of expertise. Then, I suppose, that reporter felt she could count on me for something colorful, perhaps witty.

And so, for a brief period, it wasn’t too, too unusual to find myself being quoted in the daily newspaper. The benefits noted above apply.

But the reporter moved on to another, bigger, more prestigious newspaper.

The 15 minutes of fame ended.

Precisely as Andy predicted.

Care to guess my middle name?

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