THINK Before You Interview

BEFORE YOU SUBMIT TO THE PROCESS OF AN INTERVIEW- T.H.I.N.K.

20140305-110630.jpgTRUE & TRUSTWORTHY: start with this very important point. A reputable researcher or reporter will be forthright about who they work for, why they are writing the article and provide samples of (or links to) their previous work. One particular news gathering agency CATERS has a reputation with many in this group (including myself) of making good sounding pitches, making promises, and then not following through). It sounds good: “to promote awareness”, handle the topic in a “sensitive manner”, etc. but such by-word, “hook” phrases are too often used to win the trust of an unsuspecting interviewee. Just as you would in a job interview, ask the interviewer for REFERENCES & work samples. Those who are reputable will be independently provable.
HELPFUL or HARMFUL: is doing the story helpful to you and others? Your face & story may be associated with a bad story or misrepresentation. The public can be quite crass in their comments and say things which can be very upsetting. You may attract unwanted attention and/or suffer public ridicule. Information may be leaked which could affect your privacy: such as a host of cameras or reporters showing up at your home, unsolicited phone calls.
INFORMATIVE: does the interviewer have evidence that they are genuinely interested in promoting understanding by giving information that builds up instead of tearing down? Do they do some research in addition to what you give them? Or are they letting you “do all the work” and they just write it down to take credit and money for it?
NOT: there are some negatives things to be aware of and guard against. Some of these “not”s are: demeaning, exploitive, misleading, sensationalistic, security-risk, privacy-invading, disheartening.
KIND: what kind of article/story is it? A scientific journal/report; local news story; national or international, newspaper, magazine, TV, talk show, blog, internet. Do you have final proof approval before something is printed, posted or aired? Do you maintain ownership rights to your story or any submitted items? When will the article or story be “out” (published, posted or aired)? Will you be provided with a free copy of the completed work? When and how will you receive compensation if it is a part of the agreement?

There you have it. I am writing this as someone who has been a writer and editor of news articles. I have several life experiences on both sides of the pen and camera. Therefore, I have a pretty good handle on gathering and proliferating information.

In regard to Foreign Accent Syndrome, there is such a gross misunderstanding of what is going on (mostly because it is so rarely seen and thereby severely under-studied) that we want to help encourage awareness, scientific study and group encouragement. However, PLEASE USE CAUTION IN SUBMITTING YOURSELF TO INTERVIEWS. There are a great number curiosity seekers that would exploit your story for their own benefit without regard to your own. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Please do go to the links below and ask yourself this: if I was the subject of this article would I be happy with these articles? Why is it that although all three of these articles are written by Paisley Ruth Gilmour, there are three totally different authors names? Has she not sold the story and given the publications the right to edit and author derivatives of the work? Who is really benefitting here? Does the article invite understanding, compassion, research, treatment, encouragement, inspiration or hope? Or does it pander to sensationalism, make money off of others, open ridicule and (as one article tags) encourage curiosity of the “bizarre”?

After reading each article I encourage you to read a lot of the comments that were left. How would you feel with such things being said about you?

Here is sample of work done by Paisley Ruth Gilmour in the Daily Mail, Metro and Mirror

http://metro.co.uk/2013/04/09/eenager-georgi-readman-can-only-eat-11p-noodles-3590095/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2306236/I-eat-ANYTHING-11p-noodles-Teenager-eats-30-miles-cheap-snack-year-scared-fruit-veg.html#comments-2306236

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/teenager-who-only-eat-noodles-1821602

I am not intending to besmirch any one person’s reputation. However, I am especially wary of people who present themselves in one way and then act in another. Ms. Gilmour has just provided us with the opportunity to THINK. I cannot know another person’s motives & I am certainly not trying to cause harm to her choice of occupation.

Ms. Paisley Ruth Gilmour may have conducted her interview and even written her version of the interviewee’s story with good intentions, compassion and sensitivity.
However, she makes money by then selling that story to other publications that can and do edit that information as they see fit without consideration to the interviewee. Unfortunately, these articles are proof that not all publicity is good publicity.

Therefore, I post this as an object lesson in how to be more aware of things that we may have previously been unaware.

See how you would feel about this:

Hi Ellen,

Thanks for responding to my post.

As I said, I’m a feature writer and I’ve worked on features for the national newspapers and women’s magazines.

I’ve been learning about FAS recently and would love to talk to someone about working on a feature together.

I wondered if you knew of anyone who may be interested?

It’s a great way to raise awareness for the syndrome and there would also be a fee involved (which could be donated to a charity or research, whatever the person sees fit really).

I’ve worked on some very sensitive features with people from all background, suffering from many different diseases or traumas – so I would like you to know that I would handle everything with the utmost sensitivity.

Any help you can give me would be fab.

All the best,

Paisley x
////////////////////////////
So…does that sound great to you? Looks good: awareness, sensitivity, national audience…it’s all good right?

Here’s my analysis

What’s NOT said.

Considering Source: what do I KNOW about Paisley. When I gave her the question (I ask everyone about why they want to join this open FB group called “Foreign Accent Syndrome Awareness”) she answered to learn more about FAS and maybe do a story about it as a freelance writer (which I do). That was TEN Months ago.

She is now claiming that she is just learning of FAS and just now saying thanks for the add? =conflict of facts

She worked for and sold to Caters News agency of UK. She doesn’t tell us upfront that she is only interested in people in the UK where they can more easily conduct interview which is important info to know.

She’s asking Me to please give her the names of people that she can interview about FAS. Then she would be able to use my name like this…
“Hi, Ellen Spencer told me that you would be a good one to interview about….”, thereby using my name to build a stronger base of trust. If I am going to build a relationship bridge I will let you know.

As a rule, I do not give out full names nor contact info to anyone without first talking to them. I would hope we all could help protect each others privacy in this way. I would be more likely to say, “if you (interviewer) will provide your contact information, I will pass it along to someone who may be interested.”

Yes, she is a freelancer —writes independently—but she sells her work to these publications which are known to sensationalize. She says she has experience with various people and diseases but did not provide specific example.

Understand the Words like:
Freelancer – is not limited to just employee of one company, makes money by writing and then selling to others.

The offering of a fee- really? How much? How paid? Before or after what stage o the interview? btw I submitted to a Caters interview and was never paid nor did the article ever print. In fact the way in which the interview producer dealt with me was extremely unprofessional. “Will call you back in five minutes” and still not called over four hours later, when I called again.” There were a number of events like this which exposed the lack of concern. If you don’t keep a promise to do these little things, how can I trust you when it comes to the careful handling of this story?

“I would handle everything with the utmost sensitivity” — may be used to build trust, but doesn’t address what happens to the story AFTER she sells it…to places known for sensationalizing and negative connotations. Therefore, since she cannot control what happens to the information after it leaves her…she really can’t make this promise truthfully.

I hope that this post has helped you to see why it is important to THINK before you put yourself out to not only give a face to FAS, but also what that may cost you personally.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. Just please be aware that the publicity that you seek on behalf of the condition may actually backfire. Today, there are many poorly written and even flat-out false writings being used today which only makes living with FAS harder.

One article that is being rebroadcast near daily on Twitter is the false statement that FAS is a “psychological” problem and is caused by “conversion disorder”. It’s STILL being retweeted as Fact even though there are documented medical facts that prove its falsehood. I have requested the correction to “neurological”, but it has not been done…so the lie goes on. As they say in the newspaper business, “A false headline will long be remembered; a retraction is buried on page 12 and may never be seen.”

What do you think about this post? Do you have additional wisdom to share based on personal experience? Please comment below.


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