Sometimes great stories just come to you. Sometimes it's just luck. In the words of a reporter I shadowed the other week, "The journalism gods blessed me. This story just fell right into my lap."
But, good stories usually don't fall out of the sky and onto one's paper or into one's camera. What I have learned is that even if an amazing story is easily found, it's always good to push...with a smile of course. Anyone can hear a great story, but what I think a journalist does is push for that extra detail or better shot, which makes the story all that much more compelling.
I've found that it is even more important to push when it seems like there's no more information to be learned while doing a story. I learned this recently when I called the cops for some information on some car accidents and a reported sudden death while interning at a television news station.
I called and the police didn't give me much. With the little information I had I started writing voiceovers. They weren't good. They had no detail and contained nothing for a viewer or person to care about. So, I called back and pushed, with a polite, but firm tone.
I got the information I needed. It was awkward as a young journalist, calling the cops for the first time, surrounded by an experienced news room that could hear my every word. But, by digging a little deeper and taking the time to ask questions I did what I needed to do to make my story better. Not just for me, but for the person watching, which is the whole point of the news.
We've also learned in school that people will often do things if you're firm, but polite. If I need someone to go outside for an interview I know now that I should just ask. There's no harm because the worse they can say is no.
It's often people's jobs to give interviews or give information, so go ahead. Ask questions, in a polite way, and push nicely if you need more.