Amateur Journalism

I haven’t talked about my new blog project for a while, and there’s a reason for that. It’s taking a lot of work to put together and so it still isn’t ready yet. And again, like the last few times I’ve mentioned it, I don’t want to say too much about the project, because I and the business I’m implementing the blog for are pretty excited about it and don’t want to give anyone any ideas before we have a chance to give it a shot.

That all sounds super-secretively awesome, but don’t take it like that, please. This project is not a huge deal. We just don’t want to put the cart before the horse.

What I can say about it, is that the project began with my spending a lot of time poring over newspaper clippings, and doing a lot of library research that way. However, the project has now morphed into more of an interview process. I’ve been privileged to be able to purchase a recorder for this project and write it off as a business expense for this purpose, and with this in hand I have set out to capture on 1’s and 0’s the interesting things that certain people say in regards to….*trails off into obscure vagueness*.

Anyway, I had my first interview today, with my uncle. My initial idea was to just sit down, ask my interviewee to tell me some stories related to *blank* and away we go. And this idea went pretty well. My uncle is a good public speaker, and he was able to make the stories come out in a natural, conversational-sounding way. Then after the recorder was off, we were chatting and more stories started coming up! I had to turn the recorder back on, though discreetly so as not to make him aware, or at least not to change the comfort level of our conversation. So it occurs to me, that maybe a better way of going about this whole amateur interview thing is to just engage my interviewee in a casual conversation focused on whatever topic I’m looking for. That way  stories come out more naturally.

Actually when I started this project my cousin, Lucky, had given me this very same advice along with the suggestion of interviewing people for their stories instead of looking in old newspapers for the information I wanted. So I did start off using some of his advice, though now I’ll be using all of it. And why did I ask for his advice in the first place? you may be asking. Well, Lucky’s a bit of an historian, which is a gross understatement to be sure. My cuz creates memoirs for people from their stories. He sits down with them, and has conversations with them about their life, recording the whole way through. In the end, he has a collection of stories from their life or a special time in their life that they or family and friends can look back on for years to come. And let’s not forget he’s also an author of the newly published ‘Voices of British Columbia.’ It’s a collection of stories (in print and on CD) that he discovered and restored while working with the CBC’s audio archives. It gives a pretty cool picture of what life was like in days gone by for those who lived in the province of BC. This is his his site, MemoriesToMemoirs.ca.

I didn’t start this post intending to make an endorsement, but Lucky’s stuff is really worth checking out. And by the way, if anyone has any more tips on amateur journalism, leave a comment!

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