Source “Dating”

As a female journalist having to deal with inappropriate male sources, Marin Cogan considers why “the reporter-seductress stereotype persists”:

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 8.03.20 PMStudies suggest that men are more likely than women to interpret friendly interest as sexual attraction, and this is a constant hazard for women in the profession. The problem, in part, is that the rituals of cultivating sources—initiating contact, inviting them out for coffee or a drink, showing intense interest in their every word—can often mimic the rituals of courtship, creating opportunities for interested parties on either side of the reporter-source relationship to blur the line between the professional and personal.

A source may invite you to meet at the bar around the corner from your apartment. If you agree, he might offer to pay for the drinks and walk you home. One Washington climate reporter remembers an environmentalist stroking her leg at one such outing and noting, disapprovingly, that she hadn’t shaved.

“I always remind young female reporters to be wary about falling victim to the ‘source-date,’ ” says Shira Toeplitz, politics editor at Roll Call. “You’re on a second glass of something, and it occurs to you, he may be misinterpreting this as a date. I advise them to drop an obvious clue along the lines of, ‘I’m going to expense this.’ “