Booking and Vetting Expert Sources

NBCU Academy 101

In broadcast journalism, the process of booking guests is a crucial way to have sources appear in stories. Guests could be eyewitnesses, newsmakers, experts and more. In this video, Vice President of Booking and Editorial for MSNBC Jesse Rodriguez guides you through how to identify, vet and book expert sources for your stories.

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“You want to make sure that you identify diverse voices within the different topics you cover. That way, you can bring in various perspectives that can better inform your audience,” Rodriguez said.

Tips For Finding and Booking Sources

1) Finding your source.

MSNBC has an internal database to keep track of experts on a number of different topics, but journalists can find experts through:  

  • Colleges and universities. See if you can speak to a professor who is well-versed in the topic you are covering. 
  • Professional organizations. If you are looking for someone to talk about the Covid-19 pandemic in a particular area, check with a local health organization. If you’re covering a big court case, reach out to a legal group. 
  • Previous news coverage on a topic. See who was interviewed in previous articles or TV news segments.   

2) Vetting your source.

Dig deeper than search engines and social media profiles to verify a source’s credibility. If your source says they are associated with an organization, call up that organization and confirm that they are still a member. If your source says they have degrees from certain institutions, check in with those institutions to verify it.  

3) Booking your source.

Schedule a pre-interview with an on-air guest if they have time. You’ll not only get a preview of what they will say, but how they will say it. Make sure your expert source can explain complex issues in a manner that the average person will understand.  

When you’re booking guests for your actual story, make sure they are aware of the date and time of the interview in addition to the topic that they will be discussing. 

Expert interviews add background information, important context and credibility to a news story. The people we interview have to be in the know and well thought of in the field that they will discuss.