What an utterly impersonal way to acquire extremely personal information.
No matter how remote and businesslike they can be, phone interviews are unfortunately a very necessary part of the story-telling process. Over the past weeks, we have been reading through the documents to attain the contact information of people who were in close contact with the youth throughout his life. From caseworkers, foster parents, judges, and lawyers, we are determined to reach out to anyone and everyone who can provide us with more insight on the youth’s life. The reason for phone calls is to first establish that initial contact – then, hopefully, we can move from these impersonal phone interviews to more personal visits.
However, since this case occurred over 15 years ago, it has been much more difficult to contact these people than expected. After various calls to many numbers found in the documents and numbers found online, we have become more and more accustomed to the sound of the repeated “beep, beep beep,” indicating a disconnected phone line or an immediate voicemail response from an unrelated individual. Conducting interviews is nerve-wracking in itself, which is why we have a set of questions prepared for each specific person before each call. However, what is even more troubling is the very real possibility of not being able to get in contact with these prospects who are very valuable to the accurate telling of this story.
All we can do now is keep trying. And if we are unable to contact our prospects by phone, we may even have to take a step further and visit them at their houses. If there is one thing I have learned about Journalism from this project, it is the essence of persistence. Never stop trying until you are out of options. Then, find more options. Try everything. Always succeed. Whenever doubt sets in, I remind myself that this isn’t simply a school internship. This is the story and life of an individual who faced an injustice, and it is an opportunity to provide him with another chance at a fair trial. That being said, may the phone calls continue. And may the voice of this youth be heard.