Waiting for Jarod


Breakfast with Margery Richard and her “flat son” Jarod. Photo by Kristin Wright courtesy the Salt Archive.


When Meghan Vigeant started crying in class, I knew something was up. The tears welled-up in Meghan’s eyes as she played us interview tape from her conversation with Margery Richard. Problem was, what Margery was saying wasn’t sad.

Students at Salt often get pulled into the emotional drama of their stories. Doing so is a bit risky. Sharing a character’s emotions can cloud a reporter’s judgement and obscure objectivity.

Of course, it’s okay to be sad or happy or mad or… journalists are human after all. But, go too far and you risk not telling a true story. (Or, just to play devil’s advocate, maybe if you share someone’s emotions, your story will be even truer. Thoughts?)

In Meghan’s case, her emtional response turned out to be just fine. Margery was talking about the many deaths in her family during that interview and that triggered Meghan’s memory of her own father’s death. Meghan was able to move past that and re-focus on Margery and the story.

How close to a story can you get? When should you take yourself off a story? When should your editor? How emotional can you get — with your class, with your editor, with the people in your story?

Happy listening!



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