Deborah J. Draisin [thedebster]
What is your specialty? What subjects do you deal with?
Music, comics and human rights issues are my main focus at the moment
In which media do you presently work or have you worked?
Print, audio and video.
Please list a web address where where one can view an example of your work.
What is "news"?
I'll tell you what news is NOT: It's not about who cheated on their significant other, what it feels like to lose someone seconds after it's happened, what a murderer's neighbors' distant impressions of them were, where a celebrity is appearing or who has gained or lost weight.
News is not based upon the journalist's perspective, nor is it speculative. News is not sensationalistic, nor is it fatalistic. It's not about who has more money than who and it's not watered down. It's not presenting a simplistic version of a bill after it's been passed rather than before.
News is not a means to judge.
To you, what is objectivity?
True objectivity is the ability to present a set of facts without inserting your own viewpoint into the mix.
What is the best headline you have ever read?
Clinton being announced president for a second term.
What headline would you like to see printed one day in the newspaper?
Gay marriage is now legal everywhere.
Which paper do you buy on Sundays? Where do you read it?
I go back and forth with regular delivery service, but on Sundays, I've always preferred the Times.
Does freedom of expression end where the editorial line begins?
Ooh, that's an interesting question!
To some extent, yes - it really depends upon the medium in question and how much respect an editor has for their journalist.
Working with larger mediums is kind of a Catch-22, because on the one hand, you have more exposure but on the other, there are more rules to follow.
At the end of the day, all artists are forced to constantly weigh the value of integrity versus reach.
Do you feel that analytical and investigative journalism is being lost?
I think it's gone too far, actually. Although there are some really good vehicles out there still, exposing those who warrant same, we are also living in a voyeuristic society which encourages junk media. Gossip columnists used to display both discretion and courtesy - no longer. There is no longer any differentiation between information that audiences are entitled to versus irrelevancy.
It is also becoming increasingly difficult to find journalists who perform despite their biases. If starstruck, they go light on the subject and if opinionated, their scope is limited.
With a camera on every mobile phone, is every citizen becoming a correspondent?
In a sense, yes. There is no denying the fact that in quite a few landmark cases, a citizen's footage has proven invaluable (see Rodney King.) Experiences are recorded on personal equipment that become iconic. Sometimes the raw emotion captured by a non-professional is worth more than the calculated camera angles and careful edits that a true correspondent would show the world. It's a good development, for the most part.
How would you explain the boom of the tabloid press?
Without a doubt, the popularity of reality television (a fascination that I too am guilty of possessing) has given everyone a sense of entitlement into others' personal business. There is virtually no line anymore between appropriate and inappropriate. Celebrities are constantly informed by both audiences and mediums that they forfeited all rights to privacy the second they signed on to a job in television, movies or music. Their level of high profile is now considered to be on par with that of elected officials, and the issues that everyone feels justified in passing judgment upon have grown.
Until there is a true backlash, the bottom feeders of media will continue to rise to the top.
What is your position regarding the right to privacy of famous people?
It should be fairly obvious at this point that I feel that famous people are entitled to the same level of privacy as all other citizens. Unless a person is committing a crime, speaking publicly or making a red carpet appearance, he or she should be respectfully allowed to live their lives in the same level of anonymity as any other human.
What can you teach us about the art of the interview?
It's a very personal thing, as well it should be. Having your own unique approach is what makes your interview stand out. I like to put my subjects at ease by cracking jokes and allowing the conversation to slip off into whatever direction the interviewee likes in between questions, being sure to keep the conversation flowing, rather than disinterestedly murmuring "Mm-hm," then redirecting the subject back to my list of questions.
I keep my questions fresh by not only trying to avoid asking all subjects similar questions, but also by researching each subject's prior interviews before writing up my own. Journalists often forget that subjects are often interviewing several times a day and are being asked similar questions over and over again. Throwing curve balls keeps the subject on their toes and keeps them vested in the interview. It also leads to more interesting information for the readers as areas never delved into before with the subject make an appearance.
Please list well-known people you have interviewed.
You'll have to read them for yourself!
Would you say the journalism blog is revolutionizing the profession?
Well, it's probably humanizing it, to some degree. I have no issue with a journalist removing some of the robotics surrounding what they do and showing their true selves - in fact, I think that social networking sites allowing the fourth wall to be lowered for all public figures is a great development.
I don't currently keep a blog - I haven't found a home for one yet. I'm open on the sites that I do maintain a profile on, but I'm hesitant to believe that anyone needs my commentary on the entire universe.
Will the paper press disappear?
I've been wondering that for some time, actually. A lot of print mediums have closed their doors over the past couple of years, and there is no denying the fact that the internet is currently the main medium for news.
I feel like print will never completely disappear, but will remain the underdog.
What are your thoughts of the free papers distributed in cities?
I think free press is a beautiful thing.
What is the book you would like to write?
I don't know yet, actually, which is why it hasn't been written. A person close to me once pleaded with me on their death bed to tell their story, and my soul will probably be unable to rest until I find a way to do so.
Is there a motto or ethical principle that clarifies your decisions in moments of confusion?
I always think about Karma.
What advice would you give to someone who has just left university and wishes to start in the profession?
I would tell them to bust their ass, ignore discouragement no matter what the source and always maintain their integrity.
Deborah J. Draisin
Long Beach, NY