Friday, June 26, 2009

A Real Journalistic Experience and a Really Bad Interview

When I first started my internship at The Alcona County Review, I was asked to bring in a couple of story ideas of what I would like to write about. Don's mother had given me an idea--Write about the new building going up on the edge of Church Street. She said "Everyone wants to know what the hell is going up there!" So I go into Cheryl's office [my boss] and tell her that I want to do this. She gives me the information I need to know, and I get to work.

Pam Burt is the name of the lawyer who is trying to open up this old parts shop into a farmer's market. I call her, and have a heck of a time getting through to her. When I finally do, she tells me that she doesn't want me to do the story quite yet and that she'll call me back.

This is mid-May.

She calls me while I'm healing from my tooth extraction. So I call her back and finally get a hold of her when I feel like I can do an interview. She tells me that the Farmer's Market isn't ready, but the Dairy Dome is. The Dairy Dome is a little old igloo thing that used to serve ice cream way back in the 80's. Her brother is trying to open it up. So she tells me that I can do the story on the Dairy Dome. Cheryl doesn't like that, she wants me to wait. So I tell this to Pam Burt. Pam Burt tells me she'll just give the story to the Alpena News.

And then it hit me. I just experienced my first competitive journalistic experience! Ok, it's not much, and I wasn't really involved, but it was a little taste and it was a little surreal.

But it gets better. Yesterday I was in Harrisville with Don. I was wearing boxers, a t-shirt, a hoodie, and boots. I didn't even have any socks or makeup on. [P.S. This is what I wear when Don and I are just watching a movie after having a long day] And I saw that the Dairy Dome had a surprise opening. Pam told me they were opening on the 4th! And I'm looking around and everyone from the community is there, like Pam's brother just went to every business and all of his friends and said "Hey, I'm spontaneously opening my business up, if we get enough people to gather outside it, more people will come."

Oh my god, I should have been there! I was so torn! There I was sitting in my relaxing clothes not relaxing at all! I'm grungy looking, and I don't have a pen and paper to my name at this point. But on the other hand, no one's out there and Cheryl would love me if I wrote this, even though she said no! And that's another point; she said no. But maybe she didn't know the severity of this issue. Everyone's wanted the Dairy Dome to open up for a long time, and this would be GREAT to put in the paper.

As you can tell, I'm still a little bit torn about it. I don't know if I should be the good intern who does what she's told, or be the initiative journalist and go out and do a spontaneous story in boxers and uggs.

Here's another story about my negativity's with journalism.

I had a really bad interview today. I have to do another article like the Spotlight I did on Joe Lavigne. Except now I have to do it on Mackenzie Sims. Let me just put it simply-- I am not too thrilled to be another beat on this guy's personal drum. He thinks he's cooler than an electric knife. And I have to interview him on his latest accomplishment: a pilot's training scholarship.

Let me tell you something about Mackenzie that is imperative to this story. He has a very unique stutter. Not only does he stutter on his first letters, but he does this speech impediment movement where he searches around for a very long time to find what he's going to say. And when he does find it, he either A.) doesn't say it because he thinks that his stuttering episode was him actually talking and you should have understood it or B.) tries to say the word three times. Now. I'm not making fun of people with stutters. I myself have a lisp. But he acts like his shit doesn't stink ww-wh-when it d-d-does.

So first of all, he shows up late. Kids, remember always show up 15-5 minutes before your appointment, it shows that you take it seriously. The first thing he does when he sits me down is tells me that all he wants is to have a shout out to the people that helped him. Then we conduct the interview. Halfway through, I ask him what his other accomplishments have been through his high school. He says "I don't... uh... well... people already...uh........." then he beats on his chest with his fist and says "You know?" Now, I could understand what this awkward hand gesture meant-that people already think he's a horn tooter, and this would just further his cause. I guess he's just done TOO much for anyone to handle! Towards the end, his stuttering problem started getting really bad and I'm not understanding where he's going with any of his stories and the clock has hit 1 hour since he showed up late. I hurry up and wrap things up and tell him that I need a picture.

And he tells me "uhh... well... could you uh... umm... well... ha!" He tells me that the Oscoda News [the next town over that's big enough to have a newspaper] recently did a photoshoot of the pilot trainees at the airstrip and that I can just go over there and get their pictures because "they took a really good one." That really ticked me off. I was already pretty annoyed because this was taking so long and he wasn't saying anything of use. And he tells me that I have to go get a picture from ANOTHER newspaper? It doesn't work that way! I say "Well, I got my camera here, why don't we just go take a quick shot now" and I'm trying my best to coerce him into just taking the picture! He's stuttering a million reasons no, but I'm not understanding them because they're all a bunch of nervous noises. And then I realize that he's not going to let me take a picture with my camera and I get upset. Because I know what the reason is. He doesn't want HIS face on MY camera. He has no problem if some other reporter took the picture, just as long as I didn't. And, when we were scheduling this interview, he said "I don't want you to know where I live, so why don't we meet at Simple Miracles?" I asked him if he would email me a picture, and he starts acting like THAT'S a problem too, like he doesn't want me having his email address.

I finally gave him my email address, told him that he must send me a picture by Monday before 10. He asked if it was imperative and I said yes, it's pretty imperative. I couldn't believe it. He thought he was better than me, didn't want me to know too much of his personal information like I'm just going to stalk him. As if I fabricated this entire interview just to talk to him. I was so upset. I wanted to say "Look, we're not in school anymore, and I'm trying to be a professional, so stop being a jerk."

Don told me something that is so true, that years down the road I will wish I could have more interviews like Mackenzie's because interviews in the real world of journalism can go a lot worst. And he's right, I'm going to be begging to do interviews with just regular old egotistical high school students after a hard day.

While Don had the kisses to ease the pain, Winnie had the best explanation.

As a journalist you will encounter so many others
that will try to make you feel
like an ant. You will just have to remember
you are a monster ant that is
ready to bite the living @#%& out of them and your words
can make or break
You live and learn, and these are just a few of my adventures in Journalism.

This is what my horoscope said for today:

An awkward social moment is forgotten, as your
workload increases. Your
life doesn't get much easier, though. There are
changes in your assignment that
makes it hard to complete it on time. Be
patient. Try not to blow a fuse.

And so I just need to forget about these things, and continue on. I have two business briefs that haven't even been started that are due on Monday. So I guess there's some things I need to focus on!

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