Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Real Time With Carmen: Episode 2

Occasionally, I like to just write down my thoughts and feelings about life, like most bloggers do. But, I hate reading those kinds of blogs, so generally I don't write them.

However, I've made a few observations about my future career that I wanted to express, because A) There's a lot of awkwardness behind them and B) I don't know. I felt like it.

So, without further ado . . .

Welcome to Real Time With Camilla: Episode 2: My Thoughts and Feelings of Being a Journalist in Training.

For Episode 1, please see this. Although it's WAY more serious than this one.

I guess you can say I'm a journalist in training. Yes, I have a LOT to learn and a lot more experience to gain, but I still have some baby experience with journalism that really has opened my eyes for whats ahead in the future. Recently, I've noticed some trends that seem to keep reoccurring throughout my history of being a journalist in training.

I suppose I've been "in training" since my senior year of high school, when I was on the journalism and yearbook staff. From there, I took many journalism course every single semester to get more experience. My second year of college I was on the school newspaper. And now, I write for a marketing team. From the time I was 17, I have been telling people I want to be a journalist.

Throughout all of these jobs and tasks, I've seen these reoccurring patterns of a "journalists" life:

1. People either flee from you, or flee towards you.

Journalists don't usually blend in. Who else walks around with a notebook, pen, and some sort of recording device in hand? Maybe a detective. But if you think about it, journalists are a different type of detective.
So, right away, people know you're . . . up to something. 
And that's when they decide what to do with you. Generally, there are two types of people:
A)Those who flock away from you before you have a chance to hunt them down
B) Those who want to make their presence known and run towards you.
So who are these two types of people?
Well, let's start with Group B.
Group B: With my experience they're, well, generally the people you don't actually want to talk to. They LIKE publicity, which is good! . . . they're just usually really weird, too. They remind me of those attention seekers in class who just want to get noticed, so they answer most questions with an answer that's totally and completely wrong or just flat out bizarre. . . but they got what they wanted! Attention.
And then there's Group A.
Group A: These people flee away from you. This usually occurs after you cornered one of their friends. They take advantage of you being distracted and just RUN. Generally, they're the people you actually want to talk to. They're just uncomfortable with it, which I get. It's not a comfortable situation to be standing there with a recorder in your face while you answer questions you were NOT prepared to be presented with. (For the record, it's not very comfortable being on the other side of the recorder, either.)
To these people: Chill. It's really okay.
Especially when it comes to a school newspaper or something. We're not CNN. We're not here to make you look stupid. We're both feeling uncomfortable right now, so embrace it.  All we want is a good, intelligent quote from you that we can use in our article. And that's all. No big deal.
So chill.

2. People have very skewed visions of who journalists are.

Which is sad, really, but I do get where they're coming from.
Allow me to get on my soap box, which seriously? I NEVER DO THIS PUBLICLY.
I can't tell you HOW many times people have rolled their eyes and scoffed at me for my career of choice, and have said something along the lines of "all journalists being biased" and that they "never report the truth."
What have I noticed about this? Generally, those who think that, don't like the truth. Or, they're watching/reading the news with a particular biased in mind.
I could seriously give you a HUGE rant about how journalists handle biased and seriously, for the most part, they do a good job of dealing with it. But I'm not going to cause I doubt any of you care. But if you do, just google "transparency vs. objectivity." and that'll give you some answers.
So I will leave it at this:
Oh, the truth doesn't fit your own personal biased and beliefs? So sorry. Cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it. Accept that life just ain't fair. 
Thank you.
Oh? Also? T.V. shows portray journalists to be absolute idiots or complete jerks. Just know that in real life, journalists generally DON'T break the law to get a story.

3. Your awkward moments are really, truly recorded for you to blush at for years to come.

So . . . one question that's required to start out with is always asking the person how to spell their name. My first journalism teacher POUNDED this into our head. It's EXTREMELY important that journalists spell names right.
I remember sitting in the 6:30 a.m. class, third row, as he would howl, "I DON'T CARE IF THE NAME IS BOB JONES. YOU NEED TO ASK THEM HOW TO SPELL IT!"
Now that in-and-of itself is a pandora's box for weird looks.

Me: How do you spell your name?
Person: It's Jake Smith.
Me: So . . . Like . . .
Person: Jake. Smith.
Me: J-A-K-E, S-M-I-T-H?
Person: . . .yeah. . .

Feeling stupid level: exceeded.

I've been working on a less-stupid way to approach this, but let's be real here. Smoothness is NOT my strength, and I really haven't found a good way to tackle it.

Now, the second very important question to always ask someone is the person's official job title, just to double check it's right for my article.
But then I run into this:
Me: Okay, and what's your official job title?
*Professor gives blank look*
Professor:  Um. I'm the head of the department.
Professor: . . . I'm a professor.
Me: . . . .COOL.
I find it's much easier to pull the "I'm a naive college student" card rather than explaining, "well, sir/ma'am, it's just procedure to insure that I refer to you with the correct job title cause sometimes your internet profile is not up to date or, in a crazy situation, you don't have an internet profile at all, or, in an even crazier situation, the internet profile you have was so obviously created by you and not a professional that it is absolutely blinding to look at because of how hideously made it is."
Naive card is so much easier.

Now you're probably all like, "Camilla, what does this have to do with your embarrassing moments being recorded?"
I record ALL of my interviews.
And listen to them MULTIPLE TIMES while working on stories. So I get to relive that uncomfortable moment over and over again and squirm each time I listen to it.
And sometimes I do embarrassing things DURING the interview.
One time I dropped the pen while interviewing someone. So, in the middle of the interview you hear *clink*
"Oh, shoot. Hold on a second. Just let me. . . *rustlerustlerustlerustle* THERE we go. Okay. What were you saying?"
"Uh. . ."

I've also realized just how obnoxious my laugh is. I've REALLY had to learn to control it, cause sometimes I'll laugh in the MIDDLE of a good quote. So then I'll have to slow down the recording and try to decipher what they were saying through my obnoxious haha's.
Let me tell you. My laugh slowed down? Sounds even weirder than my normal laugh.

I'm excited to see what the future holds for me, really. How many more embarrassing moments will I get myself into? How many more weirdos will I interview in the future? How many important people will I interview? Will I influence anyone?

Well. I guess time will tell. And in the mean time, I'll continue my training in becoming a journalist, and feeling like Rita Skeeter whenever I go out to interview someone and they run away from me.

1 comment:

  1. Well, with all of my extensive (aka nonexistent) knowledge on the subject, allow me to share some of my infinite (or infinitesimal) wisdom with you.

    Really though. I have, like, zero experience being a journalist. But I've had to write a few articles, so this is how I handle the interview. Dunno if it's considered correct. It works for me.

    For some reason, asking point-blank is a sign of idiocy but asking "to double check" or "just to be sure" is a sign of forethought and supernal intelligence.
    I dunno. I don't get people. But by adding just a few words as a preface to my question, I magically don't look as much like an idiot as I feel.

    For example:
    Me: Can I have your name?
    Person: Jake Smith.
    Me: Spelled normally?
    Person: Yeah.
    Me: J-A-K-E S-M-I-T-H?
    Person: Yeah.
    Me: Okay great. Thanks for humoring me. I want to make sure we get your name exactly right (and sometimes I add, "and with all the crazy spellings of names out there, you can never be too careful").

    Credibility: RESTORED

    For the stats institute article I had to do the professor thing. I don't think it was a train wreck . . . ? They responded well, anyway.
    Me: And what is your official title?
    Person: . . . I'm a professor.
    Me: Okay, so just in case we need it, you prefer to be called 'Professor [Name]?'
    Person: 'Doctor' works too. In class I tell all my students to call me 'Brother [Name]' though.
    Me: That's good to know. Thank you!

    Potentially interesting fact for the article: ACQUIRED

    About the pen thing--You are not alone, my dear. I am a massive klutz. Always. So on this last interview I decided not to touch it at all. I had it, but I didn't touch it. It just chilled inside the spiral binding of my sexist notebook. The recorder got everything, anyway, so I didn't see a need to write anything down.

    I did this for two reasons:
    1--It allowed me to lean forward and pretend to be fascinated with the topic, even though most of it was going right over my head. My enthusiasm sparked their enthusiasm, and they put forth a real effort to give me good information. It was kinda cool.
    2--Have you ever been talking to someone (like your professor) and while you're talking they write something down? I dunno about you, but I instantly assume the absolute worst: "OHMYGOSH SHE'S JUDGING ME" or "OHMYGOSH HE'S GIVING ME A BAD GRADE." Not a happy feeling. So to avoid making other people feel that way, I don't write stuff down in their presence. And if I HAVE to get something down, I say each word as I write it so they know exactly what I'm writing and don't feel a need to panic. It's worked pretty well for me so far.

    I hope these meanderings help you out. At the very least, I hope my novel of bad examples will help you develop a couple good examples. :)

    The struggle is real, my dear. We'll conquer this madness together.

    Love you!