What are the biggest mistakes to avoid when starting to report on any story?

Bluffing. You’ll be tempted to bluff your way into getting people to talk to you. Just don’t. It’s wrong to do. It’s disrespectful. And you’ll often get called out on it.

Not spell-checking your emails to sources. A poorly worded or error-filled query to a source is an invitation to be ignored.

Not smartening up before you start. Deadlines sometimes make this unavoidable, but you owe it to yourself and to your sources to spend time trying to understand something before you start reporting on it. If you’re assigned to a story about a Trojan team, know the name of the head coach. Read about their last season. Know who their star players are. Check a few other websites to see if they’ve had a good recruiting season. Know who their next opponent is.

Not understanding what the headline is. This doesn’t mean that you’re entering the story with a conclusion or an explicit bias about something. It just means that you understand the goal of what you’re trying to get as well as your producer or assignment editor does.

Not preparing for interviews. ALWAYS have the NEXT question ready. (Read this primer on interviews: it’s helpful! )

Forgetting to get the full names, affiliations and pronunciation of your sources.

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