Last week I was walking past the J-School with my friend when he made a joke. He said, “If you listen closely enough you can hear J-School students crying about their pitches being shot down.” He was joking—I think—but he wasn’t all that far off.
Over the past week our class has been working on our pitches for the short video; it is important to work out all of the potential issues in these pitches because we can build onto this story for several different assignments. When I found out that we were going to be assigned a video story I immediately had an idea come to mind.
I want to do a story about the private shuttles that are constantly running back and forth from campus. The popularity of off-campus housing creates a parking problem that is solved by these privately-operated shuttles; however, a new problem arises when these shuttles become overcrowded. I decided this story would be good for a video because I could picture different angles of the buses pulling into and away from the frame. I could also visualize close up shots of bus drivers turning the wheel.
The idea felt perfect, I just had one hurdle to jump: I needed a bus driver to agree to speak to me and let me film. Another important part would be getting permission from the company that runs the vast majority of the shuttles at this university, Green Way Shuttles.
Once my pitch was approved I immediately emailed the bus company. After a few days of no response I tried again and began trying to call them. Still unsuccessful, I reached out to a bus driver on Friday morning. He is a colorful character who had plenty of opinions and was fun to talk to; however, he was apprehensive about doing an interview for the story. He seemed to be less nervous when I told him it wouldn’t be published in an official publication. The conversation ended when he told me he would call his superiors and get back to me with an answer on Monday.
I don’t get nervous about talking to strangers; I think that’s one of the most fun parts of being a journalist. What I was nervous about was him flat out telling me no. Unfortunately I’m still waiting for a final answer. Maybe if he refuses to do an interview I could still receive his permission to do the shots of him driving, but then find a different driver or shuttle company authority to do the interview with. Getting this access is the most difficult part of this story for me.
While the driver seemed happy that the story wouldn’t be published, I think not having a publication also makes it more difficult to gain access. Perhaps it would be easier to gain access if I was working for the Missourian, a news source that is well-known and trusted.
To me talking to sources and convincing them to work with you is all about gaining trust with them. You must be genuinely interested in them as a human being and obviously you must be as polite as possible. Everyone wants an excuse to talk about themselves. Giving them that opportunity is your best way to gain access to the knowledge the person has. For this reason, I think listening is more important than speaking when talking to sources. Talk less and smile more, you will go far.
I should receive a final answer from the bus driver tomorrow morning. Hopefully he gives me access. If he turns me down I will have to scramble to put together a new pitch. This scramble wouldn’t be fun. In fact, my friend’s joke may actually become true if I do have to start over.
Let’s hope not.