Tuesday, April 13, 2004


Here's a piece I was interviewed for by MTV On-line on the impact of The Passion. I have to admit, getting interviewed by MTV News was not something I ever saw coming ten years ago when I was trying to imagine what life after the convent would be like...

I am still learning how to do this press interview thing. For example, for the one and a half quotes that are in this article, I talked for about 30 minutes to the journalist doing the story. I am always amazed how a long conversation gets whittled down to one or two soundbites. The good journalist is the one who chooses a soundbite that reflects the whole spirit of the interviewee on the subject in question. It is quite possible to lift a quote out that is nearly anithetical to what the interviewee really believes or thinks.

I have been really lucky with journalists thus far. Part of it is that I really try to speak to them as people, and not try to talk through them to whomever the faceless millions might be who will hear or read the interview. Making it personal between me and the journalist goes a long way to having them feel that I am a person with, you know, a mother, and not just a thing to be manipulated for an effect.

The biggest thing religious people need to realize is that the one thing journalists need is a good quote. Giving a good quote that makes them chuckle and get excited can trump what they may have started to want to write before they interviewed you. At the end of the day, journlaists have a job to do, and that is rendered easier if they can get some good clear sound-bites.

So, what makes a good sound-bite? "He spoke with authority, and not like their scribes." A good sound-bite takes a clear opinion. It puts the interviewee "out there" without having a place to hide. It is usually memorable because of the way the idea is expressed. That is, a good sound-bite has a poetry about it - a parallel formation of words, or a rework of a platitude to be something new and memorable. It's matter plus form.

Or in other words, art, art, art, art.

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