The scene reminds me of a breezy day turned night at the Aurora Reservoir while my father and I fished, waiting for something to bite. I ended up catching the only fish: an 11-inch rainbow trout.
So three weeks later, in the second floor of the Daily Camera building, I waited like a fisherman waits for a bite to start rattling a nimble fishing rod. This time I was waiting for a call instead of a bite.
Waiting for sources to call back is perhaps one of the most excruciating exercises testing a journalist’s patience. Those who fail are doom to fail again before it finally sticks to them: You need to just relax, and wait. Even if they told you they’d call back at a certain time.
How they lie, those sources…
This exercise in humility (yes, we have to wait for sources, because at the end of the day, we literally won’t have much of a story without them) is especially dangerous when a deadline is approaching.
Oh that deadline. It’s a journalist best friend. Or enemy. Whatever; deadlines are like love, either it makes you the happiest person in the world or the most miserable person on earth.
So as I waited on Friday for multiple sources I realized there isn’t much I can do but wait.
But I didn’t want to wait. I called back several times after my fisherman’s patience, bred into me by years of early morning wake-ups at my father’s hand, had long eroded. I needed to go. I had things to do.
I approached my editor unsure of what to say.
It was 4 p.m.
The deadline: 5 p.m.
Number of people interviewed: one.
Number of people I had called, left a polite message before anxiously hanging up: two.
“So those sources haven’t called back…”
That’s when it hit me. Don’t be an idiot. Just call them. Again.
So I called source one. There was an answer. An interview. Typed. Bam, got it.
I called source two. Another answer, an enthusiastic one. An interview. Typed. Yes.
Then I realized there are Lords of Journalism, and they smiled at my intrepid display of initiative (or common sense?)
So when all else fails, even if they said they would call back, just call. Call your sources. Again. And again. People don’t have to like you over the phone. They just have to put up with you enough to answer some question.
So when I left the building, my head was held high. The only thing left was, well, you know actually writing the article.