Interview a kid they said. It’ll be fun they said.
I finally faced the dreaded “slow journalism week” and had no leads to any newsworthy events or updates to existing stories. In desperation I found myself asking friends for suggestions only to receive one, interview a kid, and see what they have to say to adults.
Like any proper journalism graduate student, I weighed the odds. I held out for last-minute leads, tried to follow-up on old contacts. Alas, nothing new to work with, or at least in regards to this type of assignment. Narrative: tell a story and have my interview subject tell it for me.
I found this ironic when times before I’ve had people clamber towards me with ideas and “here cover this!” suggestions, but when faced with telling the story themselves, suddenly all is quiet on the journalistic front. I am learning from this experience, that there is some safety in a third party providing an account of a situation. It’s not so easy to sit in front of a camera and share your thoughts. It must be dreadful for some people to even consider.
Brennan Monson, my brave volunteer at the young age of 12 elected to share her thoughts on the current state of the world. She was my first child interview subject, and I confess I thought it would be easy. Brennan even confided during the shooting of her interview that she thought that she would be “more confident in her responses.” It’s a bit jarring for people who have never been in front of a journalist, or film maker’s camera before.
I remember in my undergrad (Media Arts) I had fears of being in front of the camera. But like anything in life, sometimes you are the only available participant or actor for your project. You get over the fear, and you just do it. I wasn’t 12 years old though and trying to share a message intended for an audience older than me.
After a brief warm-up which lasted close to half an hour, we commenced the real interview. There were hilarious moments of pauses, and “thinking faces” from Brennan. Adorable childhood innocence and certainty that each adult once had when they were younger.
Brennan’s advice is solid though. She discussed at length how concerned she was that we as a society over process our food, making meals unhealthy. She thinks men and women should be realistic in their search for love, and not to chase “fairy tale” stories that Hollywood and novels feed to us. Racism is bad, and that we should embrace different cultures, and we should take care of the environment – “we didn’t just discover the earth, we were born on it,” she says.
These are wise words to hear from a youth. As adults we tend to forget that they observe us, and learn from us, ever so studying our achievements, and failures.
To get the video accomplished, I had Brennan pretend she was making a time capsule message to the future. I promised her I would attempt to make the video look as “YouTube” as I could make it. With what was one of the most challenging interviews to date, I am glad that I have this experience under my belt. And congrats Brennan, for being a brave young girl and sharing your message with the world.