Sleeping with the enemy, er, source

December 10, 2009

It was uncanny I came across this Gawker post about the “tradition” of reporters sleeping with their sources so soon after a conversation with a co-worker. I took the position that it’s a conflict of interest.

(The following is not verbatim.)

Female Co-worker 1: That Barbara Walters got around. I had no idea she slept with so many of her sources.
***Cross-talk with a another co-worker, who agreed with me that it was creepy, ensues***
Female co-worker 1: As a top journalist who is always busy, that’s who she’s exposed to. Who else does she see all day?
Me: Co-workers.

Actually, I don’t think that’s such a hot idea either. Dating a co-worker can lead to some pretty awkward moments if it doesn’t work out. (Yes, I speak from experience.)

But, hey, it works for some. Every newspaper I’ve worked at has had at least two married couples if not more. According to American Journalism Review’s “Married with Bylines,” that’s not unusual.

“If you go into any newsroom, you’re going to see couples that are married and if they’re not married, they are living together,” says Nancy Woodhull, a founding editor of USA Today who now heads a media consulting firm specializing in new media opportunities and audiences.

One of the Gawker comments expressed a similar position, a little less eloquently:

YOu end up fucking them [your sources] because you never really meet anyone else (except other reporters, and you’ve already fucked them).

Personally, I feel lucky to have escape the minefield. I think, with my love of travel writing, I lucked out on marrying a pilot!

What do you all think? As journalists, are there people you shouldn’t date?

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