Wednesday, 21 March 2012

30. Keep contacts on a Word doc not a paper address book. It's neater, easier to update, can be backed up & harder to lose.

As a reporter I've always made a point of watching journalists I admire and tried to learn their "secrets".

And I've certainly been lucky to work alongside some of the very best. They are all very different characters but had one thing in common: contacts.

These days a reporter doing his or her job - and doing it well - can be arrested for having contacts - for that you can thank The Guardian.

Despite this contacts remain an essential part of the industry. They are one of the things that make the difference between a good and bad reporter - and all the elements in between.

So it is a surprise in the digital age to see the number of trainees still using address books to keep their contacts.

Apart from the obvious - you can lose the bloody thing - they soon become tatty and virtually impossible to read.

People move and numbers get scrubbed out...anyone living in London for any length of time will by now have got used to their fourth change of area code (01, 081/071, 0208/0207 and now 0203).

Plus there is not much room for notes - a useful thing when meeting contacts.

Personally I use Word. You don't have to. When I first put this up on Twitter a student contacted to tell me I'd got it all wrong, I was out of date, why wasn't I suggesting Cloud.

I didn't need to use the full 140 characters of Twitter 14 sufficed. **** off, ****.

But I did look into it. And by all means if you have nothing better to do with your time look at Cloud contacts or whatever.

Personally I found Word simple and easy to use. You can search with ease and, if you keep them in a rough A-Z format you can check if you've made a spelling mistake.

It's also incredibly easily transferrable. I email my contacts on a semi-regular basis which means that if I lose one I have it somewhere else.

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