Category Archives: Cultivating sources

Cultivating sources

Element Descriptor

Not everything you need to know is going to be handed to you on a plate. You’re going to have to find some sympathetic – or at least neutral – folks who will tell you things, or tell you what questions to ask. FOR GOD’S SAKE PROTECT YOUR SOURCES.

Level descriptors

NovicePractitionerExpertNinja
Able to make contact with one or two sympathetic members/officers, asking them questions that they are -in every sense – “able” to answer. And not go blabbing “off the record” stuff. Ahem.Able to cultivate several sympathetic members/officers, asking them both questions they are able to answer and ones that they shouldn’t but do because they trust you not to go blabbing.Able to cultivate a range of sources, keeping an anonymised record of what you’ve been told, cross-checking to allow for bias/mis-remembering/agenda-based leaking etc.Able to cultivate contact/maintain communications with a wide variety of people, including those who are not sympathetic in general but who, at various times, have overlapping objectives and are therefore willing to share/trade information.

Element Overview Essay

This is a draft. If something doesn’t make sense, or you see typos, or if you have further ideas, please email us on contact@activecitizenshiptoolkit.net

The reason sources don’t get cultivated is we have this idea that you have to meet in a spooky car park, speak in hushed tones and wear trench coats. But this is not the case.

Cultivation of sources will require trust that the information that is given will be used appropriately and that sources will be protected. And I still regret something I did 10 years ago, which probably cost me other people’s support, justifiably justly. Anyway. I regret it not for the consequences for me, but for the stress that I caused to the person who was acting in good faith. It was very, very stupid of me. 

Consequences of not cultivating sources is that organisations and bureaucracies which are already opaque, stay opaque, and that you are unable to be ready to apply the right kinds of pressure on them as and when opportunities arise.

So the solutions around cultivating of sources is make friendly, quiet approaches to people and a reputation for trustworthiness and discretion. That doesn’t mean that you do what the sources want you to do. It does mean that you do not burn your sources. And it doesn’t mean does also mean that you do not blab about your sources and that you operate on a very, very strict needs to know basis and that you make sure that your emails and websites web data that might get leaked, don’t.

This overlaps obviously with data security

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