Photo by Hoi Ann, March 7, 2024

I’ve had many interesting encounters and experiences meeting my sources.

Working as a journalist, you need to be responsive and quickly judge the situation before proceeding.

In one case, an asylum seeker from Xinjiang would only meet in a casino.

In another, a government source asked me to come to a private club due to fear of public exposure.

The most quirky meeting request I had in the early stages of my career was to meet in a recording studio, but the place could not have mobile reception or wifi.

And the most interesting post-interview request I received was to remove their phone number from my contact book.

Ever since I walked out of the casino, the club, and the recording studio, I always go to the same bar alone on Russel Street.

It’s the only scenario where I go to the place, sit on the second floor, and finish one drink.

It is my sanctuary from trauma.

Such requests always posed many challenges, ranging from making fast decisions to memorising the exit plan of the venue upon arrival.

I am far from a master of journalism. But the rule I had for myself is to make sure I always have an exit plan.

Either secure it or lose it, I need to be responsible for my own safety.

Journalists newly walked into the industry are always asking about how to chase talents for their stories.

For me, it seems to be simple.

I don’t chase talents.

I only chase facts.

I show them what I am looking for, sometimes propose basic rules working towards a shared goal.

I give them time and the choice — you can say no.

My golden principles here are being respectful, consistent, and patient.

Every talent is different. You are always showing your genuinity and consistency.

And you are not afraid to their rejection or rejecting their unreasonable requests.

If you don’t have these principle, you may soon experience burnout or become too forceful.

Even if you get rejected by 50 sources, you should still be hopeful for the perfect one who trusts your professionalism.

That’s where a big news emerges.

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