Putting your personality on paper: our new profile contest


My grandfather had a fascinating life. Why can’t we interview our loved ones?

One of the reasons for this is that we want to encourage students to expand their circles and get to know new people in their communities.

But a bigger reason is that we want this competition to teach information literacy, and in real world journalism, no journalist would be responsible for covering their own family. Journalists should try to be as objective and impartial as possible, and interviewing your grandfather – or your mother, or your cousin – leads to a natural “conflict of interest” as it is difficult to be objective about your relatives. For this reason, we also hope that you will not choose your best friend. The purpose of this competition is for you to interview and learn more about someone you don’t know well.

The good news, however, is that you can suggest your uncle as a possible interview topic for someone else in your class!

Can I interview my subject on Zoom, via email or text, or does it have to be live?

Given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the fact that we cannot predict what will be safe and logistically achievable for all students, we will allow virtual interviews if this is your best or your only choice. However, we do want to encourage you to interview and photograph your subjects live whenever possible. The conversation will be better and you will be able to understand your topic better thanks to the person’s body language and their interactions with their environment.

And while it’s okay to follow up with an email or text interview to clarify details, you can’t “interview” your topic by just emailing questions. For this project, you must have an oral conversation with your topic, in person or virtually. (If you need to take photos through a screen, this article describes how some professionals did it.)

I wrote biographies of famous people in school before. Is it the same thing?

An excellent question from a class in Pennsylvania. In short, no. A biography sums up a lifetime, while a short profile focuses on one angle. For example, the Q&A with Kristina Wong doesn’t go into her full performance history, but instead focuses on how a mask-making project during the pandemic led her to create a new one. solo show.

Finding that angle is part of the challenge. We’ll post a few resources to help you out, and link them here when we do.