Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Posts Tagged ‘Scott Simon

What is Old is New again

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As I continue working on my book about the public radio pledge drive, I came across a quote from Susan Stamberg’s “Every Night at Five”, published in 1982.

“We ask people what they make of the tax cut, the threat of radioactivity, Watergate.” “Their reactions are barometers of the political climate.  Lyndon Johnson is supposed to have said that when Walter Cronkite criticized his Vietnam War policy, he knew he’d lost ‘Middle America’.  During Watergate, when a Nixon voter in Manhattan, Kansas, told us he’d lost faith in the president, we knew Richard Nixon was suffering heavy losses.”

I found this the day after reading Kyle Pope’s critique in the Columbia Journalism Review on how the media missed the in/out debate by paying too close attention to the left/right debate.  That, after hearing Scott Simon commenting on criticism of the media in wake of the election.  And that, after discovering an interview PRI’s Andrea Seabrook did with Current magazine back in August where she articulated the same thing; the “what unites us is much more than what divides us” argument, and how many people are angry about the same things.  For example, in Portland, Oregon, KBOO news director Lisa Loving said she was pitched a story of Wall Street Occupy protestors reaching out to Malheur Occupy protestors.

Ms. Stamberg’s quote reminds me that the media goes through cycles of lucidity.  With the election of our president-elect, it seems it has, again, emerged from a period of darkness.  And while it parries criticism, it will double down on a new way to explore something that it once learned, forgot and has apparently found again.

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November 15, 2016 at 03:01

Daniel Pinkwater

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daniel pinkwater

Just had a great conversation with author Daniel Pinkwater. He turned out to be a gracious, no nonsense, down to earth person. Considering we never know how people will be (or how we seem to them), it was a very pleasant and revealing interview.

I came up with about 20 questions, with half of them related to the 14 years or so of contact he had with NPR. But I got the impression after a few questions that NPR wasn’t on his top list of things to talk about. I also kind of inferred that after checking him on Google Trends. For those of you that don’t know, Google Trends is a great tool that tells you how popular something has been or currently is in society. I noticed that between 2004 which is when Google Trends began and about January 2007, Mr. Pinkwater had up to 100 mentions at a time in the media. But after then, his media exposure dropped off sharply. And except for two spikes this year, it has continued to taper off.

He said in the interview that he likes the relative anonymity he enjoys in his Upper Hudson River Valley community because “nobody here reads books”. So when I asked him why he agreed to do the interview with me, he simply said “because you asked”. As an interviewer, you always expect things to be hard; agents, handlers, changed schedules, questions to avoid, tempers, equipment problems. But Mr. Pinkwater was a human version of WYSIWYG and it took me a second to get used to that.

Anyway, our talk will be up shortly. And thank you again, Mr. Pinkwater.

Written by Interviewer

October 3, 2013 at 02:10