The Media School

Interviewing Bloomington residents difficult, but worthwhile

March 28th, 2019 by

Throughout early February, I went out into the streets of downtown Bloomington to find out what the locals think of a current issue involved with my beat, labor and the economy. With the recent federal government shutdown fresh in people’s minds, I kept my questions focused on the area’s current job market.

It certainly wasn’t easy, as I battled poor weather, a lingering fever, nerves and several uninterested residents. Ultimately, I was pleased to meet the people I did and happy with the answers I found.

When I first went out to the streets of downtown Bloomington on the chilly Sunday afternoon of Feb. 10, I’ll admit I was pretty nervous, as well as being in a bad mood. Less than an hour earlier, the IU basketball team came up short against Ohio State at Assembly Hall, resulting in their second home loss of the weekend, so the mood of the city wasn’t ideal for answering random questions from a nerdy stranger.

The first subject I approached was along the narrow sidewalk of North Lincoln Street near the library. He was a large, middle-aged man who had clearly just attended the game.

“Excuse me, sir?” I said. “Can I have a moment of your time?”

“Get out of my way, son,” the man said.

At first, I thought he was joking, as he slowed down a bit and had a friendly look on his face. But, he proceeded to say what he thought of me.

“I ain’t got time for your soliciting nonsense,” he said.

“It certainly wasn’t easy, as I battled poor weather, a lingering fever, nerves and several uninterested residents. Ultimately, I was pleased to meet the people I did and happy with the answers I found.”

Before I could explain myself, he was on his way, and I was as discouraged as ever.

I would approach four people throughout the next half hour, in which no one was willing to chat. I decided that it was just a combination of the cold weather and gloomy mood. I packed it in and would try again later in the week.

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, I went back out to try and get my first couple interviews in. Only this time, it was colder than Sunday, along with some light snow falling. After walking around the Kirkwood and downtown area for just 15 minutes with no such luck and a budding runny nose, I gave up for the day, once again, continuing to put off the interviews.

Finally, on Thursday, Feb. 14, temperatures crept into the 40’s, allowing for easier, more comfortable interaction among the locals. In the mid-morning hours, I interviewed my first official subject, Hyejin Park, a 37-year-old South Korean graduate student, while we walked towards campus along East Sixth Street, since she was in a time crunch.

Not only did Park give me my first interview for the story, but she also provided me with a new viewpoint for my beat, and a new issue involved with Bloomington’s current job scene.

She felt that it’s much tougher for international students and residents to obtain a job within the Bloomington community than it is for American residents. Once I began to think about this more, I figured this could be a large issue as well, and went on to ask each of my following three interview subjects if they felt the same.

Two of the three agreed, both IU students in their early twenties, including a J303 alum. My final subject, an 86-year-old ex-reporter, preferred not to comment.

Overall, everybody seemed positive that jobs in the area are readily available, which is what I originally sought to find out. While time-consuming and nerve-racking, I found this story to be very fun and worthwhile!