There’s Discomfort in Paradise

I wrote an article for The Maneater this week about a study done on “stayover relationships.” It was a story about MU students’ shacking habits. After interviewing the doctoral student who published the study, I set off to find a few more interview subjects. I walked around campus and searched for couples that might agree to an interview, but all I could think about was how awkward the situation was. I couldn’t imagine myself walking up to someone and asking her how often she sleeps over at her boyfriend’s place. It’s a pretty personal topic. Publishing relationship details in the newspaper seemed like a terrible idea.

I was immediately reminded of the audio slideshow we watched in J2150 that revealed the emotions and hardships in the life of a paralyzed mother. A discussion about access followed the slide show. The subject needs to be comfortable with exposing herself; she must provide access to the journalist. She must decide exactly how much access she will provide.

This was the concern I had while writing my article. I wanted my interview subjects to be comfortable with being quoted in the newspaper.

Multimedia techniques elevate this comfort issue to a new level. People often feel more uncomfortable with having their pictures taken or words recorded than they do being quoted in a written story. I used to think I would have the most trouble gaining access to high-profile criminals and top-secret government documents. Now, I realize gaining access to the intimacies of the daily lives of “ordinary” people will also be quite a challenge, but it is a necessity.

This slideshow tells a very personal story.


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