Midlife Bat Mitzvah makes the headlines!
Well, that’s an overstatement if I ever heard one. But the J, the weekly Jewish newspaper of the Bay Area, ran a story about this blog and about yours truly several days ago.
You can read it here.
I always find it somewhat unnerving to be on the other side of the interviewer/interviewee line. When I was a newspaper reporter, the subjects of my stories generally gave me high marks for accuracy. But still, being a journalist gives you a ringside view of how many things can be gotten wrong in a story — through carelessness, misunderstanding, the need to condense long comments into short spaces, or reporting that begins with a preconceived conclusion.
There are also situations where the reporting isn’t wrong — just different from how the subject views the world. It’s like when our mental images of ourselves don’t correspond with what we look like in a photo, so we tear up the photo.
When I was a reporter, I was always surprised by how few people were leery of being interviewed. Maybe most folks didn’t know enough to be nervous.
I was nervous. When I sat down with J reporter Stacey Palevsky, I found myself deliberately trying to find places to connect with her. I’m a journalist, you’re a journalist. You taught in Oakland Midrasha, my daughter goes to Oakland Midrasha. It was the mirror image of what I used to do when I was the reporter writing the profile: Find little things in common with the subject. Put them at ease. Win them over so they open up to you.
It’s a somewhat strange dance step — reach out, build trust out of mistrust, so your dancing partner tells you their full story. Or listens, with a friendly ear, to your story.
In any case, Stacey Palevsky did a very good and professional job. Caught the essence of what I’m trying to do. No significant factual errors. Chose a good anecdote to open the story, and a good, related final quote to end it. Didn’t leave me hiding under the bed with embarrassment or feeling like I wanted to (figuratively) tear up any photos.
Plus… on the literal level… she got a great photo of our new kitten on my lap at the computer!