I'm kind of quiet. That's the word my teachers always use to describe me. I'm more of a listener, a thinker, and an observer than a talker. So much of journalism—noticing details, recording accurate information, deliberating over what was right or wrong—came relatively easily to me. The hard part, for me, was having to go out and (gasp) TALK to people.
For my feature story in Ms. Scott's class, I wanted to interview Mr. Giampa, the food service director of Paresky Commons, Andover's dining hall. I emailed him on Saturday, explaining my project and suggesting times we could meet on Sunday or Monday. He did not reply. I sent another email on Tuesday night with a new list of times to meet. Still no reply. The story was due Friday. So on Wednesday, desperate but determined, I marched into Paresky Commons after school and did a lap around the first floor—I didn't find him. And I'm embarrassed to admit that after that, I almost gave up; it would have been so easy. But instead, I went down to the basement of Commons, wandered down a hallway, and found myself in an underground labyrinth of Hispanic workers pushing food-laden carts. At the end of the room, I saw a bright office-y looking room, and, following the light, I stumbled, awkward and inexplicably out of breath, into what turned out to be Mr. Giampa's office.
Big deal, most of you would say. But for me, that was a gigantic step out of my comfort zone. It was worth it, though: Mr. Giampa provided me with invaluable facts about the vegetarian food prepared at Commons—facts I couldn't have found on my own. Plus, I provided him with the opportunity to tell his side of the story, to defend the dining hall that some of the vegetarians I'd interviewed had argued did not care about feeding them.
Like most anything in life, succeeding in journalism means taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone. If you want a good story, you have to get out there (leave your room) and talk to people.