Seven Qualities of a Credible Journalist

Photo courtesy of Pexels

By Robin Carr, LCI

Reporters often note that the most offensive public relations practices include receiving pitches that are irrelevant to their beat, too many follow-up inquiries, and pitches that are too self-promotional without a real story. On the flip side, PR pros have peeves with media who post a release as-is and lazy media who get details wrong. Deadlines, ethics, factual information and building relationships are important qualities on both sides.  

Let’s take a look at seven qualities of a credible journalist – and what PR folks should keep in mind when working with the media:



The story the reporter should be credible or written in a way that promotes trust. The information must be complete and above reproach. It helps if you know the writer’s reputation beforehand.



This characteristic is similar to integrity, but it could also relate to what publication, program or format in which the story appears. It’s best to stick with an established destination for your pitched story.



A story full of holes and bias is worthless. It must be factual. This is the most important quality of a journalist.  



PR pros want a writer who remembers appointments and contact information. The journalist should remember facts and data points you’ve provided and stay organized. You might be able to tell how organized the reporter is if you have a Zoom meeting – or at least get a hint of their tendencies.



Everybody has deadlines, but some don’t embrace them. If the reporter can’t meet their deadlines, it isn’t going to work. The best reporters thrive under deadline pressure and work better with a clear concept of making a deadline.


Understands the point

If a reporter doesn’t get the point of a story pitch – provided you’ve done your job as a PR pro correctly – it’s a problem. A reporter isn’t your teammate. He/she is your storyteller. Find somebody who understands the point.



There are usually at least two sides to every story – sometimes more. You can’t expect a reporter to gloss over some facts you may not necessarily agree with, but the reporter must fairly present all viewpoints to represent the whole story. You don’t want a whitewash but an empathetic story.


Related Articles:

American Press Institute: 7 characteristics of effective accountability journalists

MVOrganizing: What Qualities Make a Good Journalist My advice for Aspiring Journalists