Respectful reporting

Jerry Bellune

Apr 1, 2023


Some investigative-style TV producers and newspaper reporters abuse their First Amendment freedom.

They practice confrontational and ambush journalism.

They give reporters a bad name. Respectful reporting will get you better results.

For example, you might think of how threatening reporting can appear even to veteran public officials.

They will no longer take your calls or might even tell you that you need to talk with their lawyer.

We’ve found that honest, respectful inquiry works better even when dealing with dishonest people, corrupt officials and those who have something to hide.

For example, we deal with corrupt officials this way:

“Good morning, Mr. or Mrs. _____, we expect that you are familiar with (whatever the issue or controversy may be) and we want to share with our readers your perspective on this.”

It’s not a hostile question. It’s an invitation for public officials to go on the record and even defend themselves.

Another way: “Our readers have asked about (the issue). What do you advise us to tell them?”

We never accuse them of anything. We will state the facts as we have been able to find them.

We allow our readers to decide if the official is telling the truth.

On controversial issues such as teaching Critical Race Theory, we ask school officials for their policy.

If they decline to comment or won’t take our calls, we report that the official was asked to comment and declined, was unavailable to comment or could not be contacted by phone and email.

Next: Revising without pain

Jerry Bellune is a writing coach and author of “The Art of Compelling Writing, Volume 1.” If our reporters wrote better, it would make editing easier. It would make our news and feature articles sing. But we lack the time to coach them. Here’s a secret. You can help them with copies of writing coach Jerry Bellune’s The Art of Compelling Writing; $9.99 at