After undertaking an emotionally charged, and spirited interview, I learnt a few valuable lessons in not only my interviewing and future journalistic skills, but also the true importance of compassion and empathy as a human being.
When interviewing my father, Lou, I already had some understanding about the story of his former work-mate and friend, having heard it a number of times before. However, as the setting became more professional, adding a notepad and audio recorder into the mix, the atmosphere turned quite sombre and almost too serious. It can become difficult and confronting at times to openly talk about the issue of cancer, especially when someone you admired and whom was dear to you, has suffered and lost their battle with this disease.
Typically being a loud, funny, joking-around type of person, my father showed his more vulnerable and almost forlorn side, which was a rare change to see, especially when all of his nostalgic stories are told in a happy-go-lucky fashion, even this particular memory of his friend Margo. When I mentioned that I would like to interview him for this assignment, he accepted instinctively, and began practising his radio announcer voice. However when the time came to start, it was different than what I expected. “This is much harder than I thought” he told me. He struggled to find the right words, and felt the expectation of needing to say the right thing.
My father wanted to keep some of his more personal memories untold, and keep them from being publicalised knowledge. This ultimately became a challenge I had to face, due to the fact that I wished for more of a raw, emotional and personal response. I had already known this would be challenging for him to talk about, and as the interview went on, I became more understanding and empathetic as he told this story, the way he felt appropriate.
During the interview, there were times where his voice would tremble and quiver, as he recollected the time of her death and you could feel the emotion of sadness running through the room. Although this was an intimate recollection, I managed to capture and include some of these instances within the recording, which added powerful meaning to the context of the interview.
There were also times where he made light of the situation and told memories which provoked his emotions of happiness and laughter. This contributed to my learning experience, allowing me to gain an understanding that in every story where darkness is present, there is always some form of lightness throughout.
By feeling the prescience of these three different emotions, it promoted me to think and feel on a level that was both humanised and professional, trying not to cross the line between the two, which is a skill that I understand journalists must acquire.
When it came down to the editing process, I had never used the ‘Hindenburg’ software, so this became a challenge in itself. I found that some of the recording was sketchy and I tried my best to make it sound as proficent as possible, with my developing skills. The music and sound effects were found on the freesound.org website, which were downloaded with ease. I believe the music I chose complimented the tone of the interview. I wanted to find a solid medium between the reflected emotions of both sadness and happiness, whilst also capturing the tenderness of the topic. A challenge that was also faced was staying between the 1-2 minute mark. There were so many words and stories that I would of liked to include, to tell the full story of my father’s experience and memories, so it was quite difficult to edit out certain parts, in order to try and remain within the limit.
Overall, conducting this interview assignment was a trial, tribulation and humbling experience. I am greatful that my father wanted to share his story, and there were many moments that were benefical to listen to. I felt I managed the process quite well, given the topic of the story and my connection to it. Hopefully this story of Margo provides an enlightening experience in the areas of friendship, life-appreciation and positivity.
Here is the link to the interview on SoundCloud: