Sometime last week, I had to explore the city of Boston for a Journalism assignment. I swear some of the journalism professors love sending students out for stories here at Emerson. But besides that point, I had to do a story relating to food trucks so I headed down to The Chicken Rice & Guys’ restaurant on Bedford street. They have several restaurant establishments and food trucks and that was my story angle. Usually, when we are sent out to find stories, we go out in groups, but this was an individual assignment, so I went alone. It’s already nerve-wracking for me to go up to a stranger and ask them for an interview. So I followed one of the top rules of journalism about getting an interview. Small talk.
I was hoping that there would be quite of people in line to order, but when I went in, there was no one in line. So I casually went up to register and talked with one of the cashiers named Wendy. She was super nice and energetic. I started small talk about what kind of foods do they serve and that I heard they have several establishments. As I asked if there was someone I could speak to for an interview she gladly complied and tried to offer all the possible options about who I could talk to.
And just like that, because of her charisma and excellent character, I ended up interviewing her. It was that simple during the interview which felt like a normal conversation, we talked about a lot of things besides just about the company. After our talk, she offered me a free meal, which I really appreciated.
Overall, even though it can be really nerve-wracking to go up to strangers and ask them questions, being a student journalist is just the beginning of the lifetime career. I have never done so many trial and errors of going up to people for an interview. I have learned different techniques that can make the interviewee spill out more possible information, such as letting them fill the silence in a conversation.
There are so many new ways that I can now go up to people confidently and ask them for an interview. Practicing my journalism skills on people other than my peers has allowed me to be more open and confident in approaching people. Sometimes, you may be even surprised or interested in what they have to say.
There was one time in which my classmates and I saw my professor get rejected by so many people in one day and even she has had way more experience than us. So, rejection is okay and you just learn to move on as a journalist. But when you get that one person to make a statement, I’ve learned that you give contact and a nice approach in which that will allow them to be comfortable and provide you with more meaningful answers as if they were your friend. They could even provide you with a tip you might be interested in or even offer you free food in my case. Just simply asking if you can record the person goes a long way as well, and if they are uncomfortable with it, you can just simply thank them and catch the next person. Sometimes you only that one single impactful comment that has you saying “Yes, that was it right there. That was definitely a good response!”
As my first year finishes and I go on into the second phase of being a journalist, I’m just learning more ways to butter people up.