Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Phone Phobia

When I was younger (say middle school age) I HATED talking on the phone. For some reason it made me really nervous, as if the person on the other end of the phone were going to be constantly judging me. Like I was going to make a mistake, or somehow divulge some dark secret or something... not that I have any. In my line of work, its a good thing I've gotten over that (for the most part).

The reason I bring up my phone phobia is that as a journalist I constantly make phone calls, talking to strangers trying to confirm information or score an interview. Today I did the first of three interviews that I have to do for my first article for J800. The article is due next week, but so far this was the only interview that I've been able to set up. I decided to write about a recent USGS study on cyanotoxins in lakes in the midwest, so I interviewed the woman who led the study.

It was a good interview, and I got a lot of useable material for my article, so its a step in the right direction. I contacted a UW professor working on toxins in the lakes, and I contacted a local conservation group but got no reply. Tomorrow I'll have to work on setting up the remaining two interviews -- hopefully just by contacting a bunch of people/groups I'll be able to convince two more people to talk to me.

It would pretty much make my day if this article came together nicely because as soon as its done I have to start on the next one. Oh, the joys of grad school. I always prefer to set up interviews by email first and then schedule a time to talk on the phone. I think it makes me less anxious about calling to know that someone is expecting me. Although cold calling can sometimes be very affective. I suppose in this line of work I'll have to get more used to it.


  1. Hi,

    So, this is a bit out of the blue, but I'm the new intern at BioTechniques. I was recently assigned a story on academic dishonesty and sent several of your stories to acquaint myself with the style, and I realized that we went to high school together. Andy sent me your blog and I just wanted to say a quick hello, marvel at how small the world is, and wish you fabulous luck in your current and future sci journ pursuits.

    Suzanne SHS '10

  2. Hey Suzanne,

    I was actually wondering if it was the same person from high school after seeing your byline on the website. Such a small world. I hope you enjoy writing for BTN, it was a great experience for me but in the end I decided to go for the Journalism Master's Degree to hopefully be more employable. We'll see how it goes, but good luck with everything, your articles are great!