Meet Margie

I warned you I would do it: depart from the lecture schedule when/if I was able to get someone interesting to come to class.

This Tuesday, October 4, Margaret Wolf Freivogel will come to class and let us ask her a bunch of questions. This question-asking will be conducted in a somewhat formal way, in accordance with the rules of that popular journalism game, “For Every Question, Five More.”

What, you’ve never heard of it?

Well, here’s how it works: You prepare as you would for any interview. I hope that means you will do research and find out as much as possible about the story subject. Then you might think about how you would approach the story. What experiences in this person’s life are likely to provide the richest fodder? (This really doesn’t work at all if you don’t think about the end result: a profile.) Is there a timely aspect to what she has to say that could be more fully developed for a story?

(I am deliberately not telling you a thing about Margaret Wolf Freivogel. It should not be difficult to figure out who she is, or why she’s in Columbia.)

On Tuesday, I’ll ask for someone to get us started with an opening (not opining) question. The next five people in a row will have to ask questions that follow on the answer to the previous question.

Sound easy?

Not so fast.

It’s hard to listen carefully. Most people think they’re listening, but they’re not. If you can learn to listen carefully to what people are actually saying (and what they may be implying or suggesting as well), your follow-up questions are going to be much stronger, smarter and more insightful.

Margie’s a good sport to let us subject her to this exercise. Let’s be prepared and attentive on Tuesday.


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