The energy of the mind is the essence of life. – Aristotle

How To Captivate An Audience From The Morbid Reporter

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If you don’t know a journalist, you are missing out.  All of the information we process on a daily basis can make one sick, but really it just means that our perspective, opinion, and thoughts are that much better than the average person.  And, when you get a group of us together, we are absolutely hilarious.

Sure there’s a dose of crazy with every single one of us, and we all handle it differently.  You have to be in this industry, because you see a lot of stuff and hear a lot of stuff.  In fact, my boss said recently that his entire staff needed to be on meds.  Probably.

Here’s a glimpse for those that live outside of our world or don’t understand it:  we are severely morbid people.  At work, we seem to have ‘morbid Mondays’.  We are always talking about the newest and latest crazy tales of the world, almost trying to one up each other.

To a certain extent, we secretly wish chaos to occur.  Don’t get me wrong, we can be emotional people.  If you doubt me, look at my previous post regarding my apartment burning down to the ground.  We don’t want these events to happen, but they make such wonderful stories to read and report on.  They capture an audience.

The reason you catch a glimpse of excitement when a reporter is writing or reporting on a disaster or other traumatic event is because they secretly enjoy it.  We are constantly looking for the ‘reporter gold’.

Our goal is to get inside the other person’s head.  We have to.  We want to portray that to our audience, and we find it interesting.

I recently conducted a couple of interviews of a topic we do not get to the chance to reach into a survivor’s head very often:  domestic violence.  Through these interviews, I relived violent events with each interviewee.  It was devastating.  I coached myself to sympathize with each person, but remain distant from the situation.  It was difficult, but I understand that with complicated situations that people’s emotions can get the best of them.  The day I interviewed each person, they did not let their emotions run wild.  They were great stories.

The other day at the Olympics, we watched reporter Christin Cooper interview skier Bode Miller on losing his brother.  He was emotional, and couldn’t complete the answer to her question.

Was this a time to push Miller on an emotional event?  Maybe.  Being a reporter, you cannot plan for each and every emotion; sometimes you just go with it.  It was a legitimate question that the public would like to know; and what better story to tell than that of a man who skied his heart out in memory of his brother.  Unfortunately, the story she created in her head backfired.  That’s going to happen.

I do not think her intentions were wrong, but I do think she could’ve asked the question in a way that could help Miller produce an answer without tearing up on National television.

Reporters are morbid for a reason.  A great story will play out in our head, and we want to cover it.  We want this story to be shared with the world.  However, there is a human element to reporting:  capturing our audience’s attention, and the emotions, actions, and conversation of the interviewee.  The human element cannot be planned, and you just have to run with what you feel.  Cooper felt it, and ran with it.


Author: Jess

Texan by birth, Okie by current address. Journalist who caught the travel bug. I have a healthy dachshund obsession and spend endless hours reading about world history on Wikipedia.

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