Jim Stewart’s Words of Wisdom

Public Eye’s Hillary Profita had the chance to chat with Jim Stewart on his last day in the office. Stewart spoke about his 37 year career, including how he cultivated sources throughout the years:

    HP: Why do you think you’ve been able to develop the sources you have over the period of time you’ve been a journalist?

    JS: Very good question. [Thank you!] And the advice that I always give to the young journalists when they ask that question is this: understand the people that you are covering. And what I mean by that is learn the culture. Example: when I covered the Pentagon I could stand in front of a general officer or an enlisted man and I could read his history on his chest. I knew what those decorations meant. I knew where he’d served, with what distinction he served, I knew where those units were. I could read his career.

    When I covered the Pentagon I made it my business to understand — because I had been in the military — what their next career moves were. It gave me an opportunity to talk to them as an equal on some occasions…as someone who understood what they were dealing with. And the same was true in the FBI. I went to a great deal of trouble to understand how new agents are chosen and educated and what their career aspirations were. Many a time I’d call somebody at the FBI and never ask a question about something that may have been burning in my mind to know the answer to. But I would just call and gossip with them about the latest promotions announced by the director. That bought me a lot of entre into an organization that is usually very close-lipped.

For the full interview, click here.