Reston's concept tends to reduce public affairs reporting to a form of warfare. War is dirty business; artillery shells do indiscriminate damage and sometimes hurt non-combatants. Before firing the heavy artillery, first determine whether a barrage will elicit answers and responses that are complete and forthright. After the dust clears, what will be the condition of the reporter-source relationship? Always consider whether a non-confrontational, empathic approach will work as effectively— and cause less damage. At times, however, the artillery might be needed to break through deliberate barriers set up by public officials or public figures to thwart news coverage.
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