Tricky sources (by: Liam Kane-Grade)

I was fortunate to interview a number of experts for my story on the presidential candidates and their stances on environmental issues, although a few did not feel comfortable being interviewed about the differences between Obama and Romney.

I quickly learned about a limitation that can, apparently, keep knowledgeable sources from agreeing to an interview related to politics: working for an organization with a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

A few of the sources who agreed to speak with me do work for organizations with that status. They were careful about choosing their words and avoided saying that one candidate or the other was better equipped to help the environment. Soon, I was aware what sort of questions a representative of such an organization would and would not answer.

The most important lesson I learned in writing my article is this: When you are planning to interview people who represent 501(c)(3) organizations, it’s important to request interviews from more sources than you think you will need. It’s also important to ask sources who work in industry or other areas if you need an endorsement of a specific candidate. Fortunately, I did not need such an endorsement; all I needed was a clearer view of what effects each candidate’s positions would have.

– Liam Kane-Grade

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