An importantÂ message has emerged from my recentÂ discussions with Kent Messenger Group editors, news editors and reporters.Â Centre for Journalism students are wonderful and very talented. The KM Group is delighted toÂ have you, but there is always room for improvement and in this caseÂ it involves use of the telephone.
Too many of you remainÂ reluctant to make and receive 'phone calls.Â SomeÂ have evenÂ tried to contactÂ interviewees by e-mail.Â OthersÂ have allowed telephones to ring inÂ newsrooms without answering them. This is unprofessional.Â
For contact with interviewees or sources of informationÂ the telephone is ALWAYSÂ the right way to make the first approach (unless you are close enough to speak to them in person).Â The 'phoneÂ is fast and efficient and itÂ does not require you to give away too manyÂ details about your story in advance. There is no room for debate about this. Editors are entitled toÂ expect reporters to make a dozen telephone calls before breakfast.Â Nor is thereÂ any debate to be had about the importance of answeringÂ telephones.Â The call you let ringÂ might be the most important call of the day. It might be offering the exclusive that will make your career or win the title an award.Â Â Answer it. Show a sense of urgency.Â It is simple professional etiquette. So, if you are remotely hesitant aboutÂ picking up the 'phone,now is the time to overcome your reluctance and just do it.Â No ifs, no buts. Journalists use the telephone. They want to know what is going on too urgently to use slow, impersonal means of communication.Â Being shy aboutÂ it is incompatible with success.Â E-mail and text messages might be good enough for ordinary civilians, they are NOT good enough for reporters. Those of you going on work experience next week please bear this in mind from the momentÂ you arrive.Â Â