I'm taking inspiration today from Christine Sinclair who yesterday broke her nose in a FIFA Women's World Cup soccer match and yet stayed on the field to later score a spectacular goal. With Sinclair as the model of perseverance, I am staying the course.
You see, I spent much of last week and most of today trying to find a pharmacist source for an article I'm writing. Pharmacists, who I've been writing for and about since 1994, who I consider my friends and colleagues. In fact, years ago in a meeting with a group of pharmacists one expressed shock to learn I was not a pharmacist. (I still consider this the highest professional compliment I ever received.) My people, why are you abandoning me?
Last month I needed grocery executives to dish on the best piece of advice they'd ever received. I called and/or emailed no fewer than eight senior executives, politely appealing to them as the most interesting, influential and inspiring grocers in Canada. None agreed to be interviewed. This was not a controversial story with the potential for any backlash. It was a way of celebrating their accomplishments, a fun feature (dare I say fluff?) story. No sale.
Why aren't people calling me back? I think I am polite and professional. I take my responsibility to my sources seriously. I know not everyone can speak openly to the media without the approval of their corporate owners or bosses. And I also know people get busy and go away from time to time. But it's beginning to feel that among many there is a new reluctance...dare I say fear?...to talk to the media.
I understand the trepidation. I stepped into the fray myself earlier this month when I spoke out on a controversial issue and was interviewed by CBC, News 95.7 (talk radio), and the Chronicle Herald newspaper. I came to realize I am much more comfortable being the interviewer than the interviewee. As a source you are concerned about how your position will be framed, and whether or not you will be quoted accurately and in context. I understand this, but I also think it's valuable to share your expertise or insight on an issue when the media comes calling and the vast majority of the time as long as you are reasonably articulate you'll make out fine.
Am I in a slump or is this the way of the future? Talk to me, people. I'm pleading with you while I wait for my phone to ring...and watch more FIFA Women's World Cup. Go Sinclair!