Sunday, February 17, 2008

Can We Talk...For a Minute?

One of the hardest things as a sports reporter on the high school beat is getting kids to talk after a game. Despite the fact they're racking up accomplishments like R. Kelly does under-aged partners, most, if not all of the kids at the four high schools I cover in my county are just plain shy. I'm sure it can't be easy when a guy or gal with a digital recorder, or in my case pen and pad (somebody, please upgrade me) makes their way over to you and asks "Hey there, do you have a minute?" You can almost see the nervousness forming on their faces, as precise and detailed as a clock ticking.

In my four short months at this job, I've learned rather quickly that if your subjects aren't comfortable, you will be writing more about the game instead of plugging in quotes to make the process much easier. So how does one make a kid who will probably hear it from his or her friends as soon as the paper hits newsstands the next day or week comfortable? For me, I always try to keep it casual. Conversation instead of interview. It's been one tough transition, because I've always been one to write my questions down beforehand, memorize them and then just rattle them off.

Now, I just think about what I want to talk to the kids about, and just converse with them (I still hear some journalists saying "conversate"; STOP THAT.) like it's just a normal day. Works like a charm. And kids aren't slow. They know the recorder (or the pen and pad) is there, but if you can forge a rapport with them that's more like Person A and Person B instead of reporter and subject, you'll still get the answers and quotes you need for your story, quicker at that.

It's always fun to talk to a kid the second time around when they're not as shook up, because you can sense their comfort level with you rising, and that in my opinion is more than half the battle. If you can get teenagers in their shy and awkward phase to open up to you like you just finished taking a chemistry test with them, it makes life - and deadline reporting - so much easier.

Posted by Chris at 12:34 PM | link

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You and your R. Kelly allusions! LMAO

"...Let me upgrade ya, turn a new page...switch-cha-notepad-to-a-recoder! Upgrade ya, can I up-, let me upgrade ya!"

Beyonce - Upgrade U (Journalism Remix)

Posted by Blogger Aaron Morrison @ 11:34 PM, February 17, 2008 #

College kids are the same way... it was so funny how the guys that came out in the draft and I interviewed them were so shy and had no personality and then this past weekend in new orleans during the rookie media availibility they had so much life and even a sense of humor.

Posted by Blogger Eb the Celeb @ 9:41 AM, February 21, 2008 #
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