Pada bagian akhir buku “Handbook for Third World Journalists” yang ditulis dan disunting oleh Albert L. Hester dan Wai Lan J. To (1987, p 215-217), disertakan satu “Appendix” dengan judul menarik “How to Find the News”. Meski judulnya “Bagaimana Menemukan Berita”, tapi isinya lebih tepat merupakan tips lengkap untuk menjadi reporter yang baik.
Intinya, siapapun yang ingin menjadi reporter handal harus memiliki naluri ingin tahu yang besar. Reporter tidak boleh malas, dia harus selalu tergerak untuk mengetahui apapun yang terjadi dan dibicarakan orang. Dia harus selalu bertanya: “Bagaimana kejadian sebenarnya?” dan “Mengapa hal itu bisa terjadi?”.
Maka bagi mereka yang tidak memiliki naluri ingin tahu, lebih baik jangan mimpi jadi reporter. Lebih baik cari profesi lain yang lebih cocok.
Pemalas juga tidak cocok jadi reporter yang harus menjadi pemburu berita (news hunter). Dia harus sadar, bahan berita tidak mungkin tersedia di balik kulkas atau muncul sendiri dari bawah tempat tidur. Berita itu harus diburu dan dikumpulkan dari berbagai tempat dan berbagai sumber berita.
Reporter juga harus mampu bergaul dan berbicara dengan berbagai kalangan, karena bahan berita yang luar biasa bisa saja diperoleh dari kuli pelabuhan atau pemulung. Maka seorang reporter harus mampu memposisikan diri “setingkat di atas gembel dan setingkat di bawah Menteri”. Dengan posisi seperti itu, meski dia bukan seorang ahli, tapi dia akan bisa melaporkan fakta layaknya seorang ahli.
Berikut penulis kutip lengkap tips dari Albert L. Hester dan Wai Lan J. To yang harus menjadi pegangan bagi wartawan, khususnya reporter pemula. Tulisan ini menjadi pelengkap penjelasan penulis tentang peliputan berita.
How to Find the News
Some young reporters want to know how to find stories. Here are some tips from reporters with many years of experience:
- Have a curiosity. If you don’t have curiosity, you will never make a good reporter. if you don’t always wonder WHY, then there’s no hope for you. Even elegant writing style plays second fiddle a wanting to know the why of things.
- Get out of the office. Stories do not lurk behind the water-cooler in the office. You get very few reading the paper or working a cross-word puzzle. And if you stay in the office, the sub-editor will call upon you when there are things to do. out of sight, out of mind. If you must stay in the office, hide behind a post – but that won’t help you get stories.
- Don’t ask your source, “What’s News?” Nothing is new to most of them, since the jobs are routine. They wouldn’t know a good news stories if it hit them over the head (most of them anyway). You are the trained news-hunter.
- Talk to a great variety people. Listen to what you hear in coffee houses or pubs.
- Read specialized periodicals in your field of reporting, if they are available. Subscribe to one or two if you can effort to. If your write about local government, for example, the probably publications about it, which the local government officials read.
- Go to diplomatic parties and receptions. You can a lot here, as well as get some free food and something to drink.
- Read your own newspaper. Lots of reporters don’t like to read anything written by anyone else. Don’t be lazy. Keep up with events in your papers. Every reporters has an obligations to read his or her own paper, and several others if possible.
- Don’t hesitate to steal idea from other countries’newspapers, or papers other than you own. There is no copyright on ideas, only on the precise way of expressing them. You can frequently localize a story which has applications to your area.
- Read official communiques, as dull as they often are. They many contain the germ of a story.
- Watch television and listen to the radio. The other media have been known to do a good story once in a while which you can adapt.
- Monitor foreign news broadcasts and programs on shortwave. These will often educate you and broaden your prespective.
- Keep a future file. This will tickle your memory and stimulate you to thinking about stories which need covering. The editor will value you as an organized reporters if you keep a file on what is coming up.
- Consistently keep contact with your source. The more often you see them, the more likely they are to trust you (unless you are an untrustworthy person, in which case the more they see you, the more they will mistrust you)
- Check foreign embassy offices frequently, especially press officers. Try to talk directly to them.
- Don’t ignore businessmen. They frequently must know what is going on, if they are to survive.
- People who work at airport and harbors are frequently knowledgeable about coming-and-goings of interesting people. Have a source who know about departures and arrivals. Be friendly with airlines and shipping companies.
- Spend time in the market or bazaar. This is necessary to have the feel of situations. You won’t get it by talking to bureaucrats or by staying in the press club.
- Know several languages, if your country is multilingual. Then you won’t have to get information second-hand.
- Talk with fellow journalists. This can be incestuous, but you will occasionally get a good idea for a story.
- Occasionally, university professors and administrators are news source. Know of few of them and check them to see what is going on.
- Realize that you will not get stories every time you check with source. Some time is wisely invested in finding out what their interest are and what make them tick. This will help you get stories later.
- Swap gossip with politicians and officials. Most love to hear what others say about them, and will also give you tidbits of informatins.
- Take time to walk around your city or area. Look with fresh eyes at what is happening. Driving a car will not do this as well. Experience your community – don’t isolate yourself.
- Once in a while, go off in a cave somewhere and THINK. Take a paper pad with you and write down some possible stories ideas. This is not time spent day-dreaming. It will pay off in better idea.
- Remember editors love a self-starting reporter with ideas. They have trouble getting ideas themselves, and they will embrace you if you make their lives easier.