So very much happens on the news desk that sometimes the little, usual steps are forgotten.  I’m guilty of this.  I work so hard on so many different tasks that I overlook a simple step that would have gotten me everything I needed.  Last week though the simple routine  helped us get an exclusive interview with Timothy Masters, a man who spent 10-years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

In the middle of the afternoon we received a short release from Masters’ attorney saying the City of Fort Collins had settled its lawsuit with Masters over the wrongful imprisonment.   Our first reaction of course is to find Masters and interview him.  The reporter started out by contacting the attorney.  I searched for a statement on behalf of the City.
The attorney told our reporter that Masters wasn’t in town but that we could try to track him down.  So I did. 

I have several web sites I use to track people down, find background information, arrest records, marriage records, court records, addresses, property ownership and on and on.  The main web site I use found Masters in seconds.  I searched his full name in the entire state of Colorado.  He was the third on the list.  The address of the house he purchased in March and his current phone number were right there with his name.

The web site I used is a tool that many news stations use.  I’ve always figured the other Denver stations do to since it’s so common, but I don’t know for sure.   (Just in case they don’t, I’m not going to say which site it is!)

I printed the information for the reporter.  She called and left a voice mail.  We had a discussion with the producers about taking the time and effort to drive to the house on a chance that he’s there and would do an interview with us.  We took the gamble.

Our gambled paid off as the reporter did find Masters at home and he did agree to do an interview.  I honestly figured the rest of the stations would have the interview as well.  I knew we’d all be working the story and that this interview was the one that we’d all try to get.  He told our reporter that another station had also left a voice mail.  So, I was shocked as I watched all the other stations and realized they didn’t have it.

We reported the story live from the same location as another station.  After the stories aired the reporter from the other station asked our crew how we got the interview.  Our reporter of course did not give out our methods.  She gave a vague response of hard work and then called me to giggle about it!

Since we were the only ones with the interview, even my own coworkers questioned how we got it.  They were quite surprised to find out how simple it was.  They congratulated me for tracking him down.  It wasn’t all me though, it was also the decision to drive to the house.  The combination of simple steps and the ability to take the gamble scored the interview.

Usually when I see that one station got an exclusive interview that we’d been trying to get as well I think, “they must have kept in contact or had some type of in with the person or struck a deal to get the first interview.”  (Yes, that happens… you work the relationship and ask to be the first to get the interview.)  Now, I’ll ask myself, “did I follow every routine step, or did I make it too hard and overlook the obvious?”