Most of the time I take what I do for granted.
I think it comes with the job, or at least eventually it does. In the beginning, I used to get high off the fact that people told me things for no good reason other than I was a reporter and they were being asked questions. I won’t get into the psychosis behind why people feel compelled to reveal so much to a complete stranger because journalist-turned-egomaniac Chuck Klosterman did a pretty good job of exploring the subject in the first chapter of his latest pop culture manifesto, Eating the Dinosaur.
I’ve been interviewing people since I was 16 years old, documenting their triumphs and tragedies and the minutia in between, trying each time to make it seem as if I wasn’t a reporter but a fly on the wall. Hopelessly unobtrusive.
The goal of a feature writer (most of the the time) is to render a story from the advantage of having observed a person in their natural environment, which to be honest, is an advantage few journalists have. The construct of the natural environment is perverted by the mere presence of a journalist, so unless you’re reporting undercover (or an amazingly gifted reporter freelancing for Esquire and best friends with your subject) the people you interview are usually hyper-aware of the fact that what they’re saying will be quoted, misquoted, interpreted and misinterpreted.
For some people, being interviewed and written about is the ultimate validation. For others, it’s painful. Some people would rather retake their high school SATS than sit down with a reporter and answer questions. Other people can’t avoid it. It comes with their job. They’re in positions that people want to know about. They do things that are interesting. They create things that are clever or participate in things that are entertaining.
Mostly, these are the people I talk to.