Week 6: Tech and Interviewing

We threw our syllabus out the window today to talk about the act of racism and violence that happened on Tuesday night. We opened up class by giving students a space to talk about what happened. They engaged in a very intellient, respectful, productive conversation. They leaned in and they leaned out. Most importantly, they challenged each other. Honestly, when I added my thoughts at the end, it wasn't as eloquent or productive as anything that the students had said. Michaela led the conversation, and did a really great job. We said: Anger is an appropriate response to racism. We said: We're sorry. We're sorry this happened and continues to happen. We said: Here are the action steps we take every day to work toward racial justice. Here's how you can work toward racial justice too. 

Our guiding questions this week were: How do we use technology to communicate best? What sounds and words mean the most to you? 

We started off by having them share the "mini stories" they wrote last week as part of a interviewing practice/village building activity. I didn't think they would be as excited to share them as they were. The mini stories were really good, and they all said they had fun writing them. (Which was good, because I honestly almost didn't have them do it. They had a lot of homework, so I almost took that assignment off. But they all said they really liked it.) 

Then we talked about their listening homework. They listened to Inside Planned Parenthood from the podcast Death, Sex and Money. The episode is basically a series of interviews, and you hear Anna Sale, the host, asking all the interview questions, so it's a great example of good interviewing. It's also a good example of a reporter covering a controversial topic well. 

Then we talked about their reading homework. They read my favorite chapter of Out on the Wire called: "The Heat of their Breath: Character and Voice." I pulled the following quotes to discuss: 

  • Great tape - emotional tape, tape that rings true, that's funny, that's interesting - that is the only truly essential building block of this kind of radio (90)
  • We're always chasing the moment of awe (94)
  • Get the mind and the heart synchronized with the voice (96)
  • You're not going to get me to care about it unless I can relate to it on a basic human level. (88)
  • If your ideas don't inhabit a form, they're just like smoke, you can't grab them (89)
  • I want to experience the world as ideas flowing through people (89)

Then, finally, we broke out their audio kits! We explained what was in the audio kits, how to use them, and we talked more about how to interview effectively. Every week I think class ends at 10 AM, but it actually ends at 9:50 and two students have class at 10, so every week I go over time. They were supposed to conduct their first interviews this week, but we pushed it back because we don't think they're quite comfy enough with the equipment or their story ideas yet to go out and interview. Instead, they're setting up interviews this week, and conducting them next week. 

A gaggle of students stayed after class to talk through their story ideas, and that was awesome. They're getting somewhere. We're moving. Shit will get real when they start interviewing next week!