The summer between my junior and senior years of college, I took a forgettable internship at a newspaper called The Home News in East Brunswick, NJ. I honestly don’t even remember how I got the internship. It wasn’t like it was super close to where I was living at the time (at home, an hour away) and I didn’t know anyone there. I’m thinking maybe one of my aunts or uncles knew one of the editors and that was my in? Anyway, not important.
The newspaper staff didn’t really know what to do with me. This was a middling-sized paper (daily circulation of approximately 50-75K) without any sort of formal intern program in place. I was the only intern they had had in several years. So I got passed around to whoever had time and needed help. I covered some political events, did some copy editing, and even wrote some obituaries.
But the absolutely worst came on Saturdays when I would come in at 11 am and the assigning editor had absolutely nothing for me to do. Instead of turning around and going home, I would beg and plead for something. It wasn’t that I was such a go-getter, but more that I had just spend an hour on the Jersey turnpike and didn’t feel like hopping right back on. And so, more often than not, I got the worst assignment of all (yes, even worse than the obits) – the “man on the street” interviews.
As a part-time, introvert, I hated these. It entailed approaching random people in a random location, introducing yourself, and asking if it was OK to take their photo and record their response to a question of current interest. Super, duper creepy, right?
I would usually hang out in front of one of the local libraries for these interviews, where at least chances were OK that the people I approached would be somewhat coherent. And truth be told, more often than not people agreed to be photographed for the newspaper. But it still really sucked. I always felt like such a loser (time for Derek’s low-hanging fruit joke here [note from Derek: too easy]). Nonetheless, I always managed to suck it up and come back with something.
So since 2022 is officially the year that I overcome things I have have disliked (arugula salad, I’m coming for you!), I’m bringing back the “man on the street” interviews just in time for the Alliance meeting. Each day, I’ll be asking a hard-hitting question or two of a handful of the
500 400 200 (insert shruggy shoulder emoji) attendees and record their responses for everyone’s edification. I’ll likely add a few personal observations of the weirdness of attending a live conference for the first time in 2-ish years in the super fun era.
Maybe you even have something in mind you’d like me to ask everyone – I’m certainly open to suggestions. Just type something in real quick in the comments box below.