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|| News Item: Posted 2012-06-08

Being Professional is an Important Tool in the Bag
By Nic Coury

Photo by Nic Coury

Photo by Nic Coury
I love reading the Sports Shooter “In the Bag” columns and seeing all the cool toys (read: tools) my colleagues are using. But as I’ve learned this year, being professional is a much more important thing to keep in the bag.

I work for an independent news weekly, so I have the opportunity to put my other skills to use like reporting and writing, which is nice as my degree is in news writing.

Being our only photographer, I cover most of the spot news and because of that, I have grown a long list of contacts in law enforcement and local government and have started reporting on local crime quite a bit.

In 2012, our county has had some pretty gnarly bad news and I’ve done a good amount of investigative reporting and photographing the subsequent stories. I have had to work public information officers, police sergeants and the like and learned a few things in the process.

Respect goes a long way. Police commanders and deputy district attorneys are more willing to help you out with information (off the record too) if you’re professional and not demanding or rude. The same goes for court bailiffs and security guards who help control access.

In news situations with hard subject matters, I have found it important to sympathize with police officers with what they and their co-workers have to deal with.

Recently, I co-wrote a cover story alongside my editor and another reporter regarding a fairly explicit case involving child molestation and talking with the detectives and investigative officers in the police department, I found it necessary to connect with them on a basic, human level of respecting the intense job of having to deal with that stuff.

Though there is a fine line in being too personal, I like to chat with my sources about what else is going on aside from work. If I call someone on a Friday, I’ll ask if they have any plans for the weekend. It’s a good ice-breaker and helps lead into harden subject matters relating to the reason I’m calling them.

I have also learned that giving up small bits of information about myself can help as well. One source was reluctant to trust me during an investigation and after mentioning that I am Eagle Scout and take trustworthiness and loyalties seriously on a return voicemail to them, they mentioned the only they called me back was the fact they were also an Eagle Scout.

The message boards threads on here occasionally bring up other photographers having attitude or taking issue with other shooters at whatever location. While everyone gets heated from time to time, play the “being the bigger person” card and let the other person have the problem, not you.

Make sure to say your “please” and “thank yous” to those who work at venues, from the PR folks to the gate guards and parking attendants. Like I mentioned above, being nice goes a long way.

We all have our respective jobs to do and more often than not, our objectives are different, but no reason why we can’t keep a mutual respect between us all.

Nic Coury is a staff photographer with the Monterey County Weekly. To view samples of his work on his Sports Shooter member page:

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