birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Go Until They Say No

So as a journalist, I like to ask questions. Lots of questions. And the one thing I have learned about all the questions that I ask is this: most people don't want to provide an answer.

What do I mean?

Here are two recent examples:

Me: Who is the fitness instructor for this yoga class?

Them: This class will feature a 45-minute flow where you'll get to bend with your bros and Bieber.


Me: Why is this event being held at this location?

Them: This event will have a live orchestra, small bites and a keynote speech from an Olympian!

Now maybe I could ask better questions. And that's on me, but I needed to ask these simple information questions to better understand the events I was covering.

And while these aren't bad responses to receive, it also misses my question - and these are just two fluff questions. Not even hard hitting. Not even backed by reporting or data. Coaches avoid those questions like the plague.

So the rule I always break is pushing forward — or in the words of a journalist: "Go until they say no.

Basically, ask for all you can until they actually tell you that you can't have it. Most people give a flippant answer just to get rid of you, but if you are persistent and you keep pushing and keep asking, one of two things will happen.

Number one: they will see that you are diligent and trying and interested and they will give you the answer, (or at least a better answer) - and sometimes even more. Sometimes they become your source because they see how much you care.

Number two: They stop responding or say no.

Number one almost always happens - and it gets you so much further than number two.

This also happens when being at events. Most attendees to a stadium or an event can only go into public places. But if you have a credential or a member of the media, you tend to be let more places. Sometimes, it isn't marked, so it's better to get behind-the-scenes than be reporting what everyone else is seeing, as long as it's not hurting anything or anyone, obviously. You're there to give people what they can't get, so why not legally do so?

It's kind of like that saying: "Ask for forgiveness later." Did your wife really want you to do her laundry? Probably not if you shrunk all of her clothes. But it was the thought and you didn't do it to cause harm, so you say your sorry. But maybe instead, you don't shrink a thing and you took one to do off her plate. You think she's really going to be mad you didn't ask? Nope.

Same goes for journalists. Now look, I don't think my credential is a magical wand I can wave like Harry Potter to disarm you of your magical wand. But I view it as a gift. If I'm covering a game, the team gifted me access they didn't give a season ticket holder. And that's to provide the season ticket holder information that he couldn't or doesn't have time to get.

So no it's not a huge rule. It's not texting and driving or not paying taxes. But in my job, especially as a sports journalist, it's incredible how much going until they say no gets you in a story versus the guy who just settled for the "We're doing great. We look great. We play great. We're gonna win it all this season." answer.

One Pot, High Heat

Goody Two Shoes