Academics

Just keep calling

Cherubs persevere to get their interviews

by Kathryn Ikenberry

As Liz Sawyer walked back to Fisk Hall in the pouring rain, she had doubts about  pursuing a career in journalism. She had taken a two-mile trek to interview a beach manager for a story about Evanston’s economy, only to find the source was out of the office.    

“I was soaking wet and frustrated,” Sawyer of Michigan said. “I got back to Fisk Hall and called him non-stop.”

She was even more discouraged when the manager refused to allow her to conduct interviews with any employees. 

“At that point I thought I was never going to get my article done,” Sawyer said.  “But I just kept calling and calling, and eventually it all came together.”

Sawyer is one of many cherubs at the National High School Institute – Journalism who had to be persistent.  Reporters encountered sources who wouldn’t call back, who were reluctant to talk or who refused to be interviewed.  Some students started multiple interviews before they found a credible source.

Kristin Leffler of New Hampshire thought of giving up on her economy article after people at a movie theatre, a local inn and two hair salons refused to be interviewed for her story.  

“Each time I had to start my article over, I got more and more scared I wasn’t going to finish,” Leffler said. “No one was talking to me.  I was ready to just head to dinner and give up.”

On her way to Allison Hall, Leffler noticed a vegan general store and decided to give it one more shot.  She found her source.  She skipped dinner for an interview with the business owner, wrote the article and had it published in the Summer Northwestern.  

“I was really proud of myself after that,” she said. “The experience showed me that I have to be persistent and never give up because you never know what you may find.”

Instructor Spencer Kornhaber said journalists must be persistent in their reporting.
“The best work comes from hard work,” he said.  “You can’t accomplish anything if you’re not determined to do it.”

Joseph Rosales of California had difficulty reaching a spokesman for the New York Knicks for an interview. 

“I called at least five times throughout the week,” Rosales said. “I just kept on calling and asking just to get rerouted or put on hold.”

Rosales eventually got interviews with representatives of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets the day before his story was due.  He said the only reason he finished his story was because he never gave up.

“Keep on calling, and don’t get discouraged,” Rosales said. “If you think you’re not going to be able to talk to an NBA team, you will in time, but it just takes persistence.  Just whatever you do, don’t give up.  Keep calling.”