The Media School

Local random interviews teach valuable journalistic lesson

March 28th, 2019 by

The random person on the street interviews proved to be a difficult journalistic practice for me. This was not my first experience conducting random interviews; I utilized this technique for WFHB, a local radio station in town. Although I had this prior experience, I still felt like pulling people off of the street was rather daunting, because I didn’t want to bother anyone. Naturally, people were wary about being approached by an unknown person with a mic and a camera.

In this current media climate, journalists are already regarded as “untrustworthy.” It is much easier to conduct interviews with people who are expecting it. People that I approached became increasingly nervous about how they might sound and felt unprepared. Most people tried their best to avoid being stopped at all.

However, I found that talking to local business owners or people working in the boutiques on Kirkwood gave better results. This could be due to the fact that they are accustomed to media interactions. Also, I found targeting specific stores made a difference as well. For example, I interviewed a record store employee about the music scene in Bloomington. The employee seemed comfortable speaking on the subject, and it was more relaxed given the place reflected the nature of the questions.

Although my story was music centered, I did try to target people outside of the music scene as well, because it gives the everyday common experience. One example of this was an employee interviewed within J.L. Walters. He offered knowledge about a specific part of the music scene, venues.

“In this current media climate, journalists are already regarded as “untrustworthy.” It is much easier to conduct interviews with people who are expecting it.”

In addition, I wanted sources who varied in age, place of residence, gender, and race. Finding people of a different race was difficult since Bloomington is not minority dominated.

I chose Kirkwood as a place to search for interviews, because it is the heart of Bloomington. Music and visual arts are mostly advertised in this area, so it seemed natural to focus on the people who frequent this area.

This experience made me a little more comfortable with approaching random people, and it pushed me to be more of an active reporter. I’ve learned to be less shy about asking for what I need in order to create a compelling story.