Lit Jrn 21: Growing as the Active Participant in Reporting Journalism

* via rachelannc.tumblr.com/post/52698040043

Here is my reflection piece for the LJ21 Reporting Journalism class I’ve taken this past quarter. From interviewing strangers to cops to professors to covering events, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer and a person and have thoroughly enjoyed this class. If you so care… read on!

Upon first stepping into the world of journalism, I was met with a lot of personal confusion.

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Here I was—the so-called avid social media blogger, diary-writer, music-loving musician or aspiring songwriter that wasn’t sure how to tame her creative, expressive needs through the strict world of hardcore journalism. As a person navigating through her interests, I had found a love for the idea of storytelling through real-life events, both personal and impersonal. And, as a quiet and generally reserved person, being plunged into journalism by going up to a stranger on the first day of class was the most nerve-wrecking idea I had to deal with–it got so bad to the point I wandered aimlessly around plazas for hours, afraid to confront and find someone to interview.

Though, in the event of being forced to interview a stranger, I was blessed with an amazingly insightful conversation as my insecurities in approaching strangers had vanished. Talking to a firm Christian believer reminded me of my roots growing up in the Catholic church, as it not only reminded of home and the place where I grew up, but it helped me find faith to push onward in this little thing called journalism—that, in the very act of talking with a stranger, one may sometimes be pleasantly surprised with the things people have to say.

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Over the course of interviewing subjects, I have realized that although I have always loved getting to know other people, I get too interested in befriending and getting to know my subjects on a more personal level. This leads me to almost forget the reason why I am interviewing someone in the first place!

In my narrative interview, I came out with an informed reading of my subject and his personal perspective of the event, rather than logically finding an event timeline; in my expert interview, I became too invested in the career and life and passion for music of the professor that I didn’t invest too much energy in exploring his research; and, although a little lost in approaching a cop, I seemed to get just enough information to get by, making me realize how tough it can be to get relevant information when you interview someone who isn’t too willing to provide a lot of information. With these attempts, I have realized that I tend to put a lot of myself into my interviews, even if it means just sitting there listening and being attentive to what someone is saying (because, after all, I’ve never been one to find much interest in talking about myself and rather enjoy letting others talk, listening to the stories, events, and experiences one has gone through in life).

imageThough, I find that this may sometimes play to my advantage. When it came to the last two event coverages, I found myself enjoying these coverages the most and produced some really great articles from it. I was able to attend a jeweler’s first craft show, whom I have been following her and her band’s music for 7-years, being able to meet and chat with the entire band in a casual environment, getting to know their manager, and being introduced to their friend, Mr. Tom Anderson (whom you may have known is the creator of the late MySpace.com). [Click for photo.]

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My personal interest in people and being genuinely interested in an event allows me to actively engage in my subjects as well as absorb the environment I find myself in. I come information-hungry, ready to be a part of the event rather than passively experiencing it like I would have normally done prior to this class.

I find that my main weakness comes from personally interviewing people. I too often become intrigued by the person they are, wanting to become their friend and develop a more personal bond–aside from the awkward interviewer-interviewee relationship–and lose my main focus to produce a controlled interview. I’m still very insecure when it comes to interviewing and find myself appearing confused and unprepared going into them–it’s hard for me to act on the fly!

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Whatever the case, I loved how interactive this class was in that it forced me to go out into the world and perform several different types of interviews. It definitely made me write more focused and effective articles by “tightening-up” and allowed me to see myself grow in so many ways–in being able to approach people, hold a conversation, or not being afraid to talk to a stranger. Although I’ve still much to learn, I’m excited to see where I can take my writing and in what circumstances I will find myself under next! This has become one of the most engaging and fun classes I’ve taken here at UCI, and I don’t know what other class has allowed me to be able to actively see how much I have grown.

— Rachel Ann Cauilan

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