Before I could think twice, the lie was out there, and I knew exactly why I told it.
I had been on the phone with my mom, rehashing the first weeks of journalism boot camp at the Poynter Institute, and we were talking about a story I wrote. It was called “Same God, different prayer book,” and it was about the challenge of fostering unity among Christian denominations.
My mom wanted to know what the story’s central character, a Presbyterian pastor named Bobby Musengwa, thought of the finished piece. Musengwa was a community leader who valued church unity but struggled to promote it, and I featured him prominently.
“I haven’t heard back from him yet,” I said.
What I failed to mention was that there was a good reason I hadn’t heard back. I never sent Musengwa the story.
Reporters have a few guidelines regarding sources. No. 1: No surprises. Although Musengwa and I spoke extensively, I never made clear how I planned to use his voice in the story. Read more