As a journalist-slash-editor-slash-newspaper-dude it is always a little disconcerting to be put on the other side of an interview. Another writer-slash-reporter-slash-journalist will always interpret your words in a way you may not have intended. Television and radio reporters are the same. They'll cut and paste, move the conversation around in order to make it more entertaining. That rearranging may miss your intended point completely. Anyone who has been interviewed by a reporter for a story may have experienced this phenomenon. And, while it is usually my job to be the interviewer, I feel that interviewers, whatever media they work for, should be put under the microscope by their peers and become an interviewee, if only to remind them of the importance of getting the story right.
This last week, my publisher was put under this scrutiny for an article about the Boise Weekly in the Idaho Business Review, a weekly subscription-based business publication distributed throughout the Treasure Valley. It was interesting to read, a good article about the trials and tribulations of our business and the successes we've had over the last four years, in her words. If you're a regular reader of BW, you already know this story (see www.boiseweekly.com for BW's history in the July 13th's "Boise Weekly Turns 13" feature) albeit in my words.
From my perspective, hearing the BW story in her words, or the interpreted words of the journalist interviewing her, was refreshing. Being on a very "personal" level with my publisher, I have a greater insight than most and I could point to the things in the article with suspicion as to her use of language, knowing it wasn't quite how she would put it. I'm not criticizing the article here; it was good. Everyone who has read it says it's a great piece, amazed at it's positiveness to the point that it may seem a little too positive, implying some kind of "friendly" arrangement. Which, I assure you, we wouldn't do.
I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that in today's ever increasing media savvy world, people need to be reminded on occasion that the story you are reading is an interpretation of reality through the eyes of the reporter and his or her editor. The same goes for a photograph; it is an interpretation of the real world. Spin is everywhere, whether it is intentional or not. That doesn't mean the messenger is corrupt. I'd guess 99 percent of reporters and editors out there really try to get the story straight, to wean their copy of their own prejudices. We're more relaxed at BW with this concept. Our goal has always been to tell the story from both sides, then occasionally tell you what we think about it, too. Objectivity is a worthy goal, but an inherently flawed concept.