Are you staying in town for the summer? Develop some sources.
The best time to get to know people is when you DON’T need them for a story on deadline.
Journalists often call people they don’t know on deadline. But know that when you do that, the source might feel a little used. It’s way different when you call someone when you aren’t working on anything in particular and you don’t have a deadline to meet.
Then the person feels important and respected.
Who are good people to get to know? Court clerks, firefighters and fire chiefs, police officers, police desk sergeants and chiefs. People who work in public works at city hall. Mayors, county supervisors, city managers and city councilpeople. The PR folks at the local hospitals and county environmental services. How about a deputy district attorney or the head public defender? The coroner is a great person to get to know.
As a student journalist, you have license to call up anyone any time. The worst that can happen when you ask if you can come in and talk to them is they’ll say no. But chances are, in the summer when things are slow, they’ll invite you in.
It takes just one informal, indepth conversation with someone to turn them into a solid source who will likely return your calls when, in fact, you need to speak to them for a story, on deadline.