Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Painful

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Just so you know, that’s what a live forum can be if you don’t have the time to properly prepare.  I am still wincing a little.  Tonight was the first of three candidate forums with legislative, executive branch and  congressional candidates in advance of Oregon’s primary election on May 20th.

Eight legislative candidates came.  The board op was great.  The timer was great.  The news director was great.  But at a community radio staton, there is no overabundance of support staff.  So a lot that gets done has to be done by the person who has the original idea.  In this case, that would be me.

That is fine, unless, as my old relatives used to say, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach”.  In other words, if you’re trying to do more than you’re able.  And in my case, it was trying to do everything perfectly and forgetting to write an intro script for myself.

The simplest thing in the world.  Just a couple of sentences to set the whole thing up and get out the first question.  But running into the studio, with a whole bunch of little snafus leading up to the red light going on left me with not even a couple minutes to scribble out anything but the briefiest of notes to me.

Which is fine, but people who’ve been in journalism their whole life rely partly on ad-libbing and partly on the written word.  And sometimes, if the written word isn’t there (scribbling doesn’t always count), the ad-libbing isn’t either.  Sometimes, under duress, you can’t read your own writing.

So my first minutes of the live forum was me thrashing around for my thoughts because I didn’t have time to give me a good opening.  I eventually hooked onto my focus, like some wildly swinging grappling hook that finds a piece of chain link fence.  After that, I can admit the rest of the forum went pretty well.  But of course, that’s not enough.

I will listen to the forum because it’ll remind me to never let such a flub happen again.  Thing is though, in my past, other stuff just as unsatisfying has happened, and more than once.  It’s called experience.   My peers would say, let it go. They’re right. I can laugh about it later.  Newsrooms pass around DVDs of bloopers that the public never sees of some of the most embarrassing shit ever.  So, I’m in good company.   I’ll chalk it up too.  But for now, ow.

It was a reminder to be better.

It was a booster shot.

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Written by Interviewer

April 29, 2014 at 11:48

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