Monday, July 25, 2011
My Local Newspaper Gives Me Some Love
My local newspaper recently did a story about me, my writing, and being a firefighter. Here are a couple of my immediate thoughts.
First, after doing the interview and having a few photos taken, I realized that I had no idea what the theme of the article was going to be. The anticipation started to feel like torture. After all, I had given him an ARC copy of the book, so the article could have been about how crappy of a writer I was. For all I knew, he could have written that he hoped I was a better firefighter than I was an author. OK, the article probably wasn't going to turn out that way, but that's my point-- an author can’t help but feel vulnerable in this situation, even though rationally he knows it’s a good product.
Also, I'm not a professional speaker, so in any interview I do, my words could easily be misconstrued or the wrong parts emphasized, and I’d look like a tool. (Heck, I talked quite a bit and even I don't know everything I said.) Our interview was probably 15 or 20 minutes long and then we spoke again casually on another occasion for a bit longer. What if I had come home from a bad day at the fire house and said, "Man, I hated work yesterday?" The entire story could have been "Firefighter Who Hates His job." Or "Fireman Complains of Hard Work." See how easy it is to misinterpret?
Here is another potential pitfall in speaking to the press. As you talk to reporters, because their job is to be good listeners, you quickly forget that everything you say is on the record. Like a good friend, they don't cut you off after you make your point either. They will let you drone on and on and on for as long as you want to talk. Because he listened so well, I found myself unable to resist the urge of elaborating on whatever I had just said when there was actually no need.
I'm reminded of President Obama saying Chris Brown was a "jackass" to a reporter after the singer assaulted Rhianna a couple of years ago. And then I remember the president's immediate backpedaling as he realized that he wasn't talking to friends off the record, but to the media. Now, after doing my interview, I can see how that can happen. Though, I didn't call anyone a jackass...
I don't think.
Most of these fears, I admit, are fairly far-fetched, but, hey, it could happen. Overall, I don't think that I said anything too awful and, in the end, the final article turned out to be pretty cool. Here it is: http://www.newarkadvocate.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011107210306
What do you all think? My thanks to Chad Klimack of The Pastaskala Standard for his professionalism and accuracy.