The Power Of ‘No’ With Interviews

By Jeremy McDonald

In journalism class, we’re taught the power of ‘why’.  Always asking ‘why’ to something.  Also too, we’re taught there’s two-sides to every coin.

Another thing I remember from my journalism classes is the interview.  To get an interview, we first must approach the subject about doing it.  A lot of time from what I’ve noticed through the four-plus years athletes or coaches are uncomfortable but feel obligated because I got the ‘Media’ badge on or I said I was with the Roseville Press Tribune, the Placer Herald or the Lincoln News Messenger (papers I wrote for in California when I first started my journalism career between 2013 and 2015).

Those who ask if they can’t, were surprised in a way when I said ‘hey, no worries’ because I know it takes two-to-tango to make this work.  The biggest pet-peave that gets me is seeing my fellow journalist through the years that kind of ignoring the looks of the subject being the athletes as they interview them because they ‘have to get the story’.

Some give short answers because they rather not be interviewed, others are uncertain on what to say that they naturally nervous.  But they got the right to say no to it as much as I got a right to ask for an interview.  It’s a two-sided coin.

Yes, papers have ‘open door policies’ of that players ‘can’t’ say no.  Why?  Because papers like that are trying to take the literal ball out of the hands of the teams of the opportunity to say ‘no’ in an act to get the story.  Pretty dumb right?  One of the papers I’ve written for had this, player said no to me and I thought it was no big deal.  The editor talked to the coach and the coach forced the player to talk to me, by far the worse feeling in the world talking to the player after the fact because of what had happened.

People have the right to say no because it’s a two-sided coin.  Just because you want the interview doesn’t mean the star player or players have to give you that interview.  They have the right as much as you do to talk to them with that badge.  If their five-players on the team and the star player said no for a game or two, there are two or three other players that contributed to the star players success that day that you can talk to instead.


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