Man on the Street

via Flickr

via Flickr

Everyone, at some point, has had to do the infamous “man on the street” interviews for a story. Some papers do them all the time, some don’t.

These types of interviews are more commonly seen on your local TV stations. I bet there’s at least one each night, if you watch closely.

I’ve had to do it several times for all kinds of stories, which have ranged from how crappy the weather is to a hike in gas prices.

It’s a tool we utilize at the Chronicle to get a local perspective on a story that otherwise wouldn’t get it. I really think it adds a lot to a story, if it’s done right.

Most recently, I’ve used it for, you guessed it, a weather story. I won’t go into too much detail, but I really think we used it effectively. It got me talking to people other then town officials and meteorologists. It got me thinking about how to create and present my story for my editors.

It’s not an easy thing to do, in my opinion, to incorporate the average person into that kind of story. It’s a lot of weaving in and out.

With my most recent use, I went to two different places and talked to six total people. I had decide when to use a small cafe or a gas station. Sure the comments were the same, but you really have to think about how you want to piece the story together.

This may seem trivial, but it’s something you have to think about. It’s kind of technical, but in the long run, you want your writing to get better with each story. You don’t want to keep writing things the same way.

You have to challenge yourself to a certain degree. Obviously, that’s tough on deadline, but you get what I mean.

Going through the motions isn’t something I recommend. It’ll make you seem lazy and your stories will reflect that.

I guarantee that.

Jonathan

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