As a Missourian statehouse reporter, I spend two days each week in Jefferson City at the Capitol covering the General Assembly. Even though I work in the same building as most Missouri government officials, I find it's difficult to track down any of them for interviews.
Sometimes, it takes the better part of a day to talk to just one legislator.
But after four months on the job, I've developed a quick 'n' easy, 10-step guide to reaching a legislator for a comment on a story:
1. First, visit the legislator’s office, usually first thing in the morning. The representative isn't in. No, the legislative assistant tells you, it's not possible to set up an appointment. Mr. XYZ's schedule is too busy today.
2. Pace the halls of the Capitol and hope to see XYZ walking around. No luck.
3. Mr. XYZ sits on several committees. Check the hearing schedule to see if it's possible to corner him after a meeting adjourns.
4. Wait 45 minutes outside a committee room, notebook and pencil in hand. Hang on — is that Mr. XYZ turning a corner, walking away from the room? Yes, he took the back door out. The one you weren't watching.
5. By this time, the House is in session. Ask the doorman to pass Mr. XYZ a note on the House floor, asking him for a quick interview. XYZ reads the note and puts it in his pocket but offers no response.
6. Question your career choice.
7. Wait some more, this time right outside the House floor. A half hour later, you see Mr. XYZ leave, making a beeline toward another meeting.
8. Power walk to catch up with him. Walk and talk, a la the frenetic characters in Aaron Sorkin's show "The West Wing." Get three glorious minutes of an interview.
9. Bid Mr. XYZ goodbye, thanking him for his time.
10. Breathe a sigh of relief. Rinse and repeat.