Journalists have to look stupid — a lot.
The very nature of the job entails going to people who have the answers ( be it the expert, the person in the know, etc.) and asking that person to fill us in. Simple enough, right? But every semester, I see students who can’t get a handle on this idea.
For these students — who have spent 12+ years being drilled into a fear of not having the answers — they struggle to come to grips with admitting they don’t have the answers — to, well, look stupid. And so many student journalists who struggle are simply unwilling to go to the lengths needed in an interview to get the information for their articles because of this inability to realize why they are interviewing in the first place.
After all, conducting interviews is an acknowledgement that we don’t have all the answers. The simple fact that if we had all the answers, we wouldn’t need to do interviews. Yet, student journalists often balk at the idea of being vulnerable enough to admit this essential fact of journalism: I don’t know. And since they can’t admit they don’t know, they can’t move to the real work of journalism: finding out.
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