I’ve found that hardest part of being a good journalist so far hasn’t been writing the story, or what to write, but instead, actually contacting an interviewee. The composition isn’t hard; you have all your information and facts and quotes in front of you -or at least in your head -and hopefully you can put the words down on paper. Thinking about the story to write isn’t difficult either; as a journalism student generally you are given a prompt or a lead and you really can’t mess that up too badly.
Contacting people is a totally different story. You can go to their office and leave a paper message, send an email, leave a voicemail, call a higher-up, be rejected, be ignored, be pushed aside. It can get frustrating, but when the interviewee you want finally responds back, it’s one of the best feelings. You’ve succeeded! You’ve won!
Generally though, they won’t come back into contact with you, and you have to hound them and be on their tail with calls and messages. Trying to do this without feeling obnoxious is the most difficult part for me. Am I being annoying? If I keep calling back will they start purposely ignoring me? Am I in their Spam E-mail section?
Recently for a paper, a group partner and I went to the UMass Police station to collect documents and talk to a representative. Though there were two people in the office, neither bothered to look up and ask us anything, such as “may we help you?” or “hello”. After trying to get their attention multiple times by standing at the window and waving but failing to illicit a response, we decided to leave before we wasted more time. It’s a long goose chase sometimes, especially when you try contacting them over ten million times (I exaggerate), and you don’t get a response. This happened with interviewing the editor of a local newspaper; she never got back to me, though I emailed her and called multiple times.
This is, as I’ve stated before, the hardest part of story writing for me. Once I begin to write, there isn’t a huge challenge, but without getting interviews on time, the writing process is obviously severely hindered.
These are just my thoughts, and may be painfully obvious for some of you, but this is from my journalism blog, and I’m trying to consolidate these two into one, personal blog, and I revamped this piece a bit. It’s a less funny piece, and I think most of my journalism related ones will be like this.
Thanks for reading :))))