Caption: Breakfast with Margery Richard and her “flat son” Jarod. , Credit: Kristin Wright courtesy of the Salt archive
Image by: Kristin Wright courtesy of the Salt archive 
Breakfast with Margery Richard and her “flat son” Jarod.  
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?

Kristinwright_small

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.)

In Meghan’s case, her emotional 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?

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Piece Description

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.)

In Meghan’s case, her emotional 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?

Related Website

www.salt.edu