I’m not a master of the romantic arts. I read “101 Ways to Flirt” twice, but never had the nerve to try any of the ways. So I’m clearly not qualified to offer advice. That said, I’ll wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 14.

And to those of my friends and acquaintances who have spouses or romantic partners—don’t look to me for sympathy if you take what you’ve got for granted.

Friday, Feb. 14, will see the start of a weekend-long sidewalk sale in Seal Beach. For details, visit www.sunnews.org and click on “Three-day sidewalk sale set for Main Street Seal Beach.”

For the details about the Griffins boys soccer team’s most recent efforts, visit www.sunnews.org and click on “Los Al boys soccer ties and loses.”

The Sun’s newest business columnist discusses networking as a marketing strategy in her first column for us. To read Notes On Networking By Sarah Parra, visit www.sunnews.org and click on “The professional way to network.”

Gwenth Poetech descrubes the efforts of Weaver Elementary students to bring cheer to children battling cancer and other diseases.

For details, visit www.sunnews.org and click on “Weaver Jr. Girl Scouts work toward Bronze Award in Cheer Gram project.”

The last of the Munro furniture stores closed in 2007. But Gregg and Cory Munro reopened one of the original Long Beach stores, calling it House to Home.

For details, see “Munro brothers continue family tradition in the furniture business” on the home page at www.sunnews.org.

I was on deadline at the Sun office on Seal Beach Main Street when I heard what turned out to be a car colliding with a store. At the time I wondered what it was and then guessed that two cars had collided.

I hit command save on the fire I was working on, grabbed my camera and ran out. Sun Editor Dennis Kaiser was already ahead of me. A crowd had already gathered. I overheard people say things that turned out to be imprecise at best or just plan wrong.

“Someone drove into the store.”

Someone accidentally backed into a flower shop. Fortunately, no one suffered life threatening injuries.

“Someone’s trapped under the car.”

That wasn’t true, but I feared it might be as I pressed forward to take pictures for the Sun. I remember thinking I didn’t want to see someone hurt. Does that count as prayer? I was relieved to see the vehicle was empty.

Dennis and our customer service rep Courtney Pettijohn gathered details as I went inside to call the police, add photos to the website and compose a couple of paragraphs for the online Sun.

This sort of thing is not the reason I got into community journalism. Some journalists say “If it bleeds, it leads.” Not my style, at least not anymore. (When I was young, I was a jerk.) But in our line of work, we have to be able to put aside our own feelings—and sometimes other people’s—and gather information. And stay out of the way of the emergency responders while we’re doing it.

And hope that it is a long time before I have to rush once more to the scene of an unknown event with a camera, bracing myself for the possibility that I’m going to be gathering news about someone being hurt. I’ll do it. That’s part of the job. But I’m here to chronicle the life of a community, not the spilling of someone’s life’s blood.

News update

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach has been considering a run for governor since early this year. He announced today, Monday, June 10, that he would not seek that office. He has not yet decided what he will do when his supervisorial term expires. See the home page of www.sunnews.org for details.

Los Alamitos Police issued a sketch of the suspect in the Friday, June 7, home invasion robbery on Howard Avenue. See the home page for details.

We just put up a new video on the website. Go to the home page and click on the “beach” tab.

Let the Sun know about any videos you’d like to see at sunnews.org.

From time to time, people don’t want to talk to me.

Fair enough. I have neither the power, nor the desire, to force people to speak to me if they don’t want to.

That said, it is my job to gather information and pass it along to readers. Reporters who fail at that task can quickly find themselves looking for other work. So what does a reporter do if sources don’t want to talk to him or her?

Giving up is seldom an option. Editors don’t like that. Giving up is not a good career move. Sometimes limits of time or other resources make it impossible to continue with a research project—but you really don’t want to make a habit of failure.

However, pestering sources can cause the permanent loss of a source who might be reluctant to speak on just one or two occasions. To land one good story at the cost of future stories is not good reporting.

An unwritten rule I personally follow is ask three times. If you get “no” three times in a row, chances are you’ll get “no” 30 times in a row and so you might as well stop. I’ve also found that the more people you can find who are willing to talk to you, the less reluctant other sources are to talk to you.

And there is usually another source of information to talk to if one particular source is unwilling to speak.

Sometimes it is necessary to be blunt. If there’s a legal dispute brewing, some sources may be understandably reluctant to talk for fear of making a bad situation worse. (I’ve been both a plaintiff and a defendant in litigation and I understand that fear.) But those are the times when a reporter absolutely must give all sides an opportunity to speak. In those cases, it is best to let the source know that you are going to file a story whether they speak to you or not.

That’s the truth, by the way. My deadlines don’t change because other people would like them to change.

There’s another reason to be blunt with a source. Some individuals think that if one source doesn’t talk to a reporter, the story will be killed. That is seldom true.

I dislike confrontation. (Odd considering my line of work.) I dislike pushing my weight around. But there are times, especially when dealing with public officials, when a reporter can’t take the first no for an answer.

And media-savvy individuals know an unpleasant truth: “No comment” is, in fact, a comment—an on the record comment.