“Just a second of your time”, or how being socially awkward hinders (my) journalism

Yesterday, I spent the morning walking up and down Madrid’s Paseo de la Casteallana. Everyone in Madrid is on holiday, so it looked like this:


Eery, isn’t it? So empty. Well, that, and the fact that I waited a couple minutes to take the photo. So lesson 1: don’t trust everything you see. The city is empty, but not SO much. But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about.

I had a  doctor’s appointment nearby, and I decided to walk to the Castellana to take some pics for my article at Deutsche Welle (including the above). The heat is a bit more forgiving this week (just over 30ºC! Yay!), and a walk is always fine. Let’s see if I get rid of those extra kilos…

Deutsche Welle wanted me to portrait the Spanish feeling about the Spanish political deadlock, so I took the chance to talk to some of the few people that were around the area. It’s not an easy task for me… let’s say that my social skills are not the best.

Talking to strangers is not my favourite part of being a journalist. The thoughts of random people may not give the reader any deep insight, and the journalist may just have run into a few nutcases. After all, four or five people are far and away from being statistically representative.

However, getting “voxpops” is an important part of journalism. It’s a way to dress up the story, to give it a human soul. Readers may not be so keen to read statistically representative stories, but if you blow some life into them, ah, that’s something else!

Talking to people yesterday, my social awkwardness prevented me from actually getting all the advantage I could to build my story. I was just anxious to get away from them, return to my thoughts and my solitude, and I missed the chance to build a much more compelling tale about the frustration on Spain’s streets.

One of the people I talked to told me more about her, and I could have digged and build my article around her. It was an interesting story, like anyone’s story is as soon as you dig. But I had already turned off the recorder, and it would have been unfair to write about her without her permission.

Next time.

So if you see me awkwardly asking you for “just a minute of your time”, don’t let me run away. Let me know your story, why you think what you think. Where do you come from. What are your goals, your motivations.

Even if you’re a nutcase.

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