When it comes to developing police contacts patience can be a virtue

Developing contacts and pulling in off-diary stories for crime reporters is probably tougher than ever for today’s journalists.

Police press officers are increasingly seeking to control the flow of information by monopolising content with journalists, particularly the Metropolitan Police.

Sun chief crime reporter Mike Sullivan says: “Making yourself available is the most important thing, and make sure you attend lots of things. You also need to have a little bit of patience and wait for things to come out in the course of conversation.

“It might take a couple of hours, but if the story you want to talk about is interesting at some point the person you are meeting will want to talk about.

“If you are in the right arena, sometimes you don’t say anything – you just listen and you will get your story. I’ve seen a lot of people who are very media friendly be scared off by reporters asking too many questions.”

On the question of sources, Sullivan says: “As a journalist, if you are ever asked about sources you never ever say anything to anyone.

That means colleagues, the editor – that means whoever.

“You don’t tell anyone anything, unless it’s a matter of national interest or somebody’s life is at threat, or whatever. It’s that simple really.”

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