Being a student journalist is one of the hardest things I think I am going to push through during my college career over the next few years. There are a lot of rules to journalism, ethically speaking, morally speaking, grammatically speaking and just in terms of common sense. I suppose there aren’t rules to cope with the one in five interviews that go horribly wrong (that is a fictional statistic. I suppose I would have to hunt for an actual statistic).
I was scheduled to interview a close colleague of an alumna on whom I was writing a feature profile. Typically, I get nervous a couple of hours before my interview and, as the time approaches, my anxiety intensifies. Just when I meet the person and shake her hand or pick up my phone to call him, the nervousness dissipates.
Such was the situation when I dialed the number to call him. I was polite, greeted him and reintroduced myself to make sure there was no confusion as to whom I was.
“How are you?” I asked.
“Fine,” he replied curtly.
My head snapped back slightly, as if his curtness was a hand and it’d reached through the phone and slapped me. I recovered quickly and jumped right into the interview. I thought I’d ask simple, open-ended questions that would receive great, fulfilling and juicy answers. To my dismay, my interviewee replied in short, abrupt sentences, barely giving me anything to grasp, let alone paraphrase enough to make my article come alive. Nonetheless, I used two of his relatively dull quotes and published my article.
This is definitely one difficult aspect of being a journalist who is just starting out and learning the ropes. I used to be particularly shy and introverted, and I still am, but I’m learning to get out of my comfort zone. I get anxious for about six seconds, and then I start to look forward to meeting new people.
It’s, obviously, the terse people who discourage me from wanting to branch out and meet all kinds of people. But that’s just another aspect of — impartiality, not heartlessness. I can’t let my feelings get in the way. I don’t live in the land of nice people, bacon and life-changing books. I have to accept the crazy world I live in and deal with the punches.