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Checking it out isn’t Scrooge-like

make it great 11.30.09 apKristen Wyatt of The Associated Press writes about the Salvation Army’s foray into technology to raise money. In 30 cities, the bell ringers also accept debit and credit cards. She writes: “The growth of so-called ‘plastic kettles’ comes as fewer shoppers carry cash.”

Today’s Tip: Even with “feel-good” stories, don’t forget to cover all of the angles.

Especially during the holiday season, as callous as it sounds, be wary of claims of destitution. Check them out by asking for documentation.

The current issue of Columbia Journalism Review contains a telling article about reporters’ failure to check out the claims of heroism by some veterans as chronicled in the book, Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of its Heroes and Its History. The article notes: “The book reveals a troubling pattern: reporters take a source’s claims at face value, then dig in and refuse to correct the record when confronted with documentation to the contrary.”

Avoid that trap by checking out sources’ claims up-front.

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