homepage logo

So that’s how an interview feels

By Staff | Apr 14, 2013

This is the photo by Dave Norris that accompanied the article in the Bethany Lutheran College Bethany Report. Lacey Sawatzky, class of 2010, left, and Chuck Hunt, class of 1970, right.

So now I know how it feels to be on the other side of the note pad and camera.

For the past 40 years I have interviewed and photographed hundreds perhaps even thousands of people.

I have tried to find out the interesting things about them, guide them from one point to another, asking them about their lives.

Then writing up the story so that the subscribers of the newspaper will want to read about this person.

And, also adding some really creative photos of the person to help make the whole package interesting.

I have always thought I did a fairly decent job of it.

Of course, some of the stories have been a lot better than others.

But, most have been interesting, I think. I always try to look for the ‘hook,’ that one item that will hook the reader and pull him into the story, making him wanting to read more.

I have sometimes thought about the person I am writing about, hoping they feel that I have done a good job.

But, I haven’t thought much about how they feel about the process itself.

Now I had the opportunity to get a taste of that experience for myself.

Register reporter Lacey Sawatzky and myself were the subjects of an article in the Bethany Lutheran College Bethany Report alumni magazine.

The ‘hook’ of the story is that we are both alumni of Bethany albeit 40 years apart and are now both writing about life in Faribault County as employees of the Register.

We were interviewed and photographed a while back for the story.

After the interview, I started wondering what stupid things I had said that might be used in the article. And which of my many comments the writer, BLC communications director Lance Schwartz, would use.

As a veteran reporter, I know that a writer can make a person look wise or stupid just by the choice of which answers given during an interview you use.

Most of the time I have tried to make the subjects of my stories look good and smart. But it wouldn’t be too difficult to use one of their quotes they probably wish they hadn’t said.

I know I tried to be clever with what I said to Lance, but clever sometimes comes out dumb in an actual story.

The Bethany Report article came out this past week.

The day it came out, reporter Lacey, class of 2010, received a dozen texts from classmates. Yours truly, class of 1970, received none.

What does that tell you?

Since then I have had a phone call and a couple of emails. No texts.

Different age group.

Writer Schwartz did a pretty decent job on the story. We came out looking fairly intelligent, especially the younger member of the team.

And, Lance didn’t get too carried away with the young versus old, 40-year difference in our graduating classes ‘hook.’

I appreciate that.

Oh yes, the photo isn’t too bad either.

So, I guess after this experience of waiting to see the story, wondering how it would turn out, I now have a better appreciation of what people feel like after I have interviewed them being a little nervous about just what is going to be written.

After going through it myself, I will try and do a better job of alleviating their fears.