Tricky Interviewing: Sea of Crises

In this long form piece, Brian Phillips wanders through two uniquely Japanese stories: first, one about the greatest sumo wrestler of all time, then one that recounts a failed coup that ends in seppuku–Japanese ritual suicide that is reserved only for the most honorable warriors. Phillips connects these two stories by suggesting that they, in their own respective rites, capture the essence of Japan.

Phillips’ Sources:

-Asashoryu- Former sumo wrestling world champion

-Various photographers at the sumo matches

-Though not quoted, it is clear that Phillips met with many Japanese historians and experts before writing this story. This piece is very research heavy

-Japanese reporter who claimed to have a “ghost story”

-His friend Alex, a professor of Japanese history

-Sumo videos and records

-Many historical documents

In many ways, this is not the typical long form piece. It relies more on firsthand experience than outside sources. It is dependent on research done in textbooks and databases, not necessarily done in the field. The one source that appears to be crucial to the completion of this story–Koga, the main character–is never interviewed (or at least we do not know if he is interviewed, for dramatic effect). Though it takes the form of a journalistic work, this story is likely better characterized as a literary work. It’s lack of direct quotes was not the product of lazy journalism, but rather an artistic decision that lent the story a more first hand experience. More quotes could have offered the story more clarification and made it more concrete, but Phillips was not concerned with that. He sought to achieve mystery in this story, which involves leaving some questions unanswered on purpose and leaving room for ambiguity.

I know this is not the model work of journalism I should base my work as a student off of, but this is one of my favorite long form pieces because it is so carefully crafted, so thoroughly researched, and so elegantly told that it compensates for its lack of direct quotes for interviews. Phillips told the story his way. I hope to do the same with my stories in the future.




(Infographic made by GOOD and University of Phoenix)

Principle One: Invisibility

This infographic has a seamless design, that is that it appears smooth. The less effort a graphic appears to have taken to be created, the better it often looks (unless you actually spent no time on it).

Principle Two: Show the Near and Far

This graphic has a mix of large designs that will catch your eye right away, as well as more refined print that you will only make note of upon closer focus. One is meant to draw you in, the other is meant to keep your attention.

Principle Three: Alignment

All the components of this graphic are carefully organized and make something of a grid. It is evident that the creator of it did not just spontaneously place the items where he or she wanted, but the placement came about from careful planning.

Principle Four: Repetition

Colors and styles are repeated here and establish a sense of consistency. This makes the graphic easier to perceive and stay focused on.

Principle Five: Contrast

There is some contrast here, but not a lot. The creator used the contrast between black and white effectively, but other than that the color choice is not very bold.

Principle Six: Proximity

This graphic does a nice job of keeping relevant information compact. Data that relates to other data are not spread out all over, but rather are appropriately placed right next to each other.

Principle Seven: Intuitiveness

No reader should struggle navigating through this graphic. It is easy to comprehend and does not strain the eyes or mind. Anyone who can read can understand what this graphic is attempting to demonstrate.

Principle Eight: Simplicity

This principle is comprised of many of the others that preceded it. The underlying feature of a graphic that makes it effective (other than the accuracy of its data) is its simplicity. Simple graphics will be understood and appreciated by readers; convoluted and messy graphics will be overlooked.


From Life Hacker:

One interview miscue mentioned in this article that I am certainly guilty of is the rambling question. Sometimes I will ask a long question and give my subject multiple “options” to answer. It is quite clear that a brief, open-ended question will illicit a far better response from the subject.

From Rob Boffard:

Something that I have encountered myself that Boffard points out is people wanting to retract their statements because it may “make them look bad.” It is an awkward experience when this happens because, as a journalist, you have a right and obligation to use the words that your subject has spoken, but at the same time, you do not want to betray the trust of your source. So best case scenario, the subject has read this article and is fully aware of interview protocol.

From Poynter:

This article was particularly interesting because it discusses non-traditional methods of getting quotes for a story. All of these methods generate different types of responses from different types of people. I found the online quote crowdsourcing to be especially intriguing. While it may not be ideal for a very serious piece, this can be useful different types of stories and is a way to engage with both those you wish to hear from and your readers. This uses technology to gather thoughtful responses and helps in gaining a better picture of the situation.

From Blaine:

One thing that Blaine points out that to be a necessity (yet is often too overlooked in modern journalism) is proper grammar. In the era of breaking news and Twitter journalism, reporters can sometimes favor immediacy over accuracy–concerning facts and grammar. It has become far too commonplace in the field of journalism to come across spelling and grammar mistakes in breaking news stories. Blaine asserts that even one spelling mistake in a story can cost you your audience’s trust.

Andrew Fisher, In His Natural Habitat

These photos offer a glimpse into who my roommate, Andrew Fisher, is. We have known each other since the start of college and know each other very well. For that reason, it was difficult to decide which photos would paint an objective image of him that would allow someone else to learn about his character and interests. Nonetheless, I have tried to do so with these photos:


Andrew leaves our downtown apartment on a chilly morning for an early class.



Andrew takes his studies very seriously and makes his schoolwork his priority. 





When he is not studying, Andrew likes to take easy and hang out in our apartment.


Sports have always been a part of his life and he enjoys watching them whenever he can. Surprisingly, even bowling.



One of Andrew’s favorite perks of living downtown is all the great food. He particularly loves the new Zaxby’s on Clayton St.



Notes From My Interview With Amy Broocke

Amy Broocke: Former head of school and current Challenge Island franchisee. Challenge Island is an extracurricular program that develops 21st Century skills in a fun team-oriented environment.



-Once you add the art, it adds the fun. You need to be creative and it the arts teach that.

-Teaches kids to express themselves

Challenge Islands—make cheers, draw, etc.

-The art makes learning interesting, which makes the kids remember it better.

High Stakes Testing:

There are many Tests-driven schools. They say we want our kids to compete globally. This leads to High Stakes Testing, which doesn’t leave time for art.

High stakes testing makes everyone nervous, and teachers start teaching to the tests. This makes the material boring.

These tests are high stakes because they can determine accreditation and funding. A school can stop being a school if the test results are bad.

Testing can be important when finding what a kid’s strengths are. But bad when they become high stakes.

Merit Based Pay:

-In public school there are a lot of kids, so lots of different types of learners and skills. Some kids may have special needs or lower IQ’s. When pay is based off of test scores, teachers wouldn’t want to have special needs kids in their class—would lower test scores. This can lead to teachers changing test scores and cheating scandals.

Merit based pay can be good if it’s truly based on merit, but it’s usually not.

In Virginia they have SOL instead of Common Core, but pretty much the same thing. This makes it so teachers don’t make curriculums creative and fun and they begin teaching the tests instead of actually fun material.

Common core can be good because no matter where you go the curriculum will be the same. But it eliminates teachers’ flexibility.

Challenge Island replaces dropped arts programs (which is happening a lot).

It teaches kids how to be creative, how to work together. Teaches them things they need to be successful. Also getting along with different types of people is important.

Teaches them how to learn to use new technologies. Whatever it is, they have to figure it out, how to jump in and solve it.

Teaches confidence. The confidence to fail sometimes and to learn that it’s okay to fail. Also the confidence to fix it, which is an important skill.

Inspires kids to be creative, be part of a team and work as an individual.

21st Century skills:

Perseverance, adapting, collaboration/communication


Beat Report

The first thing that needs to be done with any beat is familiarizing yourself with both the hefty details and small nuances of the subject.

Because my mom is an educator, I have been exposed to many of the issues concerning education at both a local and national level. Common Core, for example, is something that I already have a decent understanding of. I have heard the opinions of my mom and her fellow educators on the issue (most of whom despise the program), but I would like to do more research to see if its results actually do substantiate the program, as well as hear the perspective of lawmakers.

My experience may be a little different from the other members of the education beat because I went to private school. This may have an influence on how I view major issues such as teacher pay or school districting. This perspective may also allow me view these issues as more of a third party (except the ones that my mom weighs in on frequently).

It is important for me to acquaint myself with both the politics of education as well as the real human effects of it. The former can be accomplished through extensive research, while the latter can be done only by going out and witnessing it firsthand.

Specifically, I would like to learn what efforts are being done by the Clarke County School Board to address the disparity in quality educations between the rich and the poor (of which there are too many) in Athens. I can likely discover these policies and plans by contacting members of the board or teachers at local schools. I would also like to learn what factors create a classroom that is conducive to a successful education (i.e. what works and what does not in the classroom setting). For this, the best people to reach out to would be teachers, parents, and even students.