Asking the Dreaded Tough Questions

By Carrie

I think interviewing will be my downfall.

I have always been interested in the sad stories. The tragedies and hardships that other people face everyday. The things that happen that people do not know about or try to ignore when they glance them over in the daily newspaper. Most people recognize that these things are tragic but they don’t think there is anything they can do about it. I completely understand the urge to sweep things under the rug because you could literally go crazy thinking about the sad state of the world. Unfortunately, I can’t stop thinking about it.

I have wanted to join the Peace Corp for as long as I can remember. I just want to help in any way that I can. That’s why I chose journalism. I’ve mentioned before that my dream is to change people’s lives by writing about them in a way that makes others take notice. I want to write  pieces that are compelling enough that someone is not going to look it over and forget about it as soon as they set the paper down.

That is where the whole interviewing being my downfall thing comes in. When I approached the first assignment I had ideas of what kind of interview I would get from “the refugee with the sad story.” I figured I knew the boy that I was interviewing and he has always been willing to answer any of my questions about his past so it would be simple. However, when it came down to interview time I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get the sad story that I wanted. The gripping details that would have brought tears to a reader’s eyes. I didn’t know how to ask the tough questions. I didn’t want to make him sad. I didn’t want to show him that his story made me sad. So I asked the easy questions and didn’t get what I really wanted.

Of course, instead of picking a topic that would help me avoid those questions I did the opposite. My second article is about the same kid. It requires even tougher questions. I guess I’m glad I have Thanksgiving weekend to mull all this over because the only way to make a compelling piece is to suck it up and ask the tough questions. Otherwise, Otuken’s real life struggle is going to be downplayed and that’s not fair for him or the reader. So, Wish me luck. I think I’ll need it.

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One response to “Asking the Dreaded Tough Questions

  1. Content: 4 The lessons of this class are circular — they play off each other as you get more experience. Now that you are thinking more like a journalist, you are seeing the kinds of quotes/answers you need to make your piece work.

    Interviewing is hard work. That’s why preparing carefully is vital. Write down some of the hard questions you want to ask. Imagine asking them. Then try to fit them into the conversation. Or, when the conversations lulls a little, take a breath and ask.
    Links: 3 Good — like the trauma link best — never seen that.
    Grammar: Peace Corps. 3

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