Friday, March 9, 2007

MAKING THE STORY: The Art of the Interview

-Aemon Malone (National Desk)-

Last Friday I embarked on a trek one hundred miles south to Richmond, Virginia, where I had an interview arranged with the producers of a documentary on Virginia’s American Indian population who are on a quest to gain federal recognition for all of the eight tribes that live within Virginia’s borders.

Rather than delving into the complex politics surrounding the tribes’ most recent effort for federal recognition, I decided to focus on the efforts of two documentarians (both of Virginian Indian descent themselves) who are attempting to tell the story of the often ignored and misrepresented tribes.

The interview process itself was a little less regimented than I had anticipated. I found that once one of my interviewees began talking it was hard to interrupt or redirect the conversation. A question about the documentarian’s role in a specific aspect of the film ended with a diatribe on U.S. aggression in the Spanish American War, but only briefly touching on the documentary itself. He was very passionate about what he was talking about and being my first interview of all time I was too timid to interrupt. By the time the interviewee paused to catch his breath our time had nearly run out.

I suppose the experience could be categorized as a lesson in the importance of learning the necessary composure required of the interviewer to get the answers to the questions that they have prepared. Anyways, back to DALET, I have an hour-and-a-half of interview to make sense of.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

MAKING THE STORY: s/he said, s/he said

-Lisa Brunner (Radio Expeditions)-

Greetings from the thrilling world of amateur radio journalism, where travel is uncompensated, release waivers non-existent, and batteries die mercilessly! Luckily, the first three interviewees (unsuspecting victims?) for my story on gender-neutral pronouns (also known as epicene pronouns) were incredibly generous and patient.

Between elevator dings and equipment difficulties in a Baltimore hotel lobby, DeAnn DeLuna – owner of at least one life-sized paper mache camel – started things off, discussing the affectionately dubbed “Hopkins hu” in her upcoming Political Imagination in History: Essays Concerning J.G.A. Pocock. DeLuna graciously humored me as I relentlessly rephrased awkward questions in search of that that magical, concise “ah-ha sound clip moment” (as several veteran reporters have put it) leading me to wonder: just why am I in radio journalism again? (Oh, right – because print newspapers outsource their employees now!)

I was a bit more confident over the phone with the beloved transgender warrior Leslie Feinberg hirself; unfortunately, hir articulate points were a bit muffled by a poor phone connection, and I, surprisingly star struck, nervously ended the interview too soon. Yet Richmond led me to the kind & wonderfully self-described “transsexual sadomasochistic anarchistic dyke artist and pornographer” Kate Bornstein. Despite waiting in a hotel lobby for twenty minutes before realizing I should call Kate’s room to announce my arrival, the subsequent interview went swimmingly and I now feel more comfortable with the old Marantz PMD660 than ever.

There’s still a long way to go to a polished piece, but with the help of my equally generous/fun mentor Neda Ulaby I just might (whew!) make it.

Monday, March 5, 2007

MAKING THE STORY: I wear my sunglasses at night...

-Paul de Revere (All Songs Considered)-

Have you ever talked to someone in the dark? It’s weird, right? It’s disconcerting, even a little disorienting. It might even remind you of David Lynch’s short film “Darkened Room”. But you’re not me.

ANYWAY, that’s how I spoke to “the Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown last Sunday night. He was wearing sunglasses, too.

No need to re-read that last sentence. He was actually wearing sunglasses. At night. Dark room.

These kind of bizarre goings-on are some of the many kinds of things reporters have to deal with just to get 15 or 20 minutes of a person’s time. My IE (Intern Edition, folks! Get hip to it!) story is, appropriately enough, on go-go music. It’s musicological and sociological implications through its artistic isolation, more specifically. It poses some basic questions like, “How could this music exist here (Washington, D.C. metro area) without virtually anyone else knowing anything about it?”

By talking to some D.C. luminaries, George Washington University professors, black Go-Go musicians, white non-go-go musicians and so on, I feel I can get a good internal gauge of how this music has lasted for so long and why it’s still here… longevity and stationary.

Come with me on this journey, won’t you?

Hello and Welcome!

-Ben Jarvis (Media Relations/Blogmaster)-

Welcome, welcome to the new Intern Edition winter/spring 2007 blog! Seeing as how we, the NPR interns, are both very interesting and very useful, it is only right that our blogs live up to the same standard.

Therefore, I am pleased to announce our "Making the Story" blog series - an insightful, insider's view of what it takes to create your own story for Intern Edition at NPR. Whether we're out collecting sound, setting up an interview, or locked in an editing room cutting our piece, the skinny behind the scenes can only be found here.

Check for periodic updates from all of our reporters in the field as we work to put together an entire radio show here at one of the nation's most prestigious news organizations.