Thursday, February 9, 2012

interviewing people for the paper

I was at the bowling alley recently and it was so cool that I decided to write a story about it for my column in the local paper. I wrote to my editor and told him that I wanted to do the story on the bowling alley as a center.  My editor is also the sportswriter and I knew that he writes about bowling as a sport.  So, I didn't want to step on his toes.
He told me that he loved the idea and that he was on the same bowling team as the owner.  NOW that is small town living, right?  I also know the owner and scheduled an interview.  He's a quiet guy normally and when I interviewed him, he was even more measured.  It hit me that in that capacity, I am the "press".  He didn't want just everything that he said to end up in the paper. I would feel the same way.  Wouldn't it be embarrassing to have every word you utter made public?  I assured him that I wouldn't put anything in the story that he didn't want.  I know that I am careful about the quotes that I put in my stories.  I always read back the exact quote to the person and ask them if it's correct. 
I enjoy interviewing in person, it really gives me a feel for the story and how I want to tell it.  I also like having an email interview that the person has taken the time to write and craft their answers.  My best articles come from some of both
Some people have received my email interview and gotten overwhelmed.  Some people prefer it.  I will get the info any way that I can.   What surprises me most is those that put it off and don't get their story in the paper at all!  I write a business column.  What person with a business wouldn't want a story in the paper?  It's free. 
Every time I turn in a column, my next column is waiting to be done.  And, deadlines....don't get me started on deadlines.  
I started writing the column about six months ago.  A friend recommended me and I was ecstatic to be a published writer!  I LOVE business and writing about it is fun for me.  I like meeting new people and learning about them and their motivation for being in business.  It's a hobby really.  I don't go in to an office tho many people think I do and are always telling me to say "Hi" to so and so.  I don't really know anyone in the office!  It's all done from home.

Everyone has a story, and I am SO nosy, I want to know everything!  There is never enough room!  Well except for those people who give me really short answers, yes no yes no.   The more they tell me the better the story will be. 
My predecessor advised me to use a tape recorder for interviewing.  I did try that a couple of times...what a disaster! 

I never realized how much  I interrupt people (rude) and I also never realized how hard it is for any of us to speak with complete sentences and finish a thought.  I couldn't get anything out of my recordings. 

So, I use a notebook and write all my interviews by hand.  Besides, it takes longer and the thoughts get processed and we are able to make the quotes reflect what the person is trying to say.   Interviewing is my favorite part of being a reporter. 

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