One of the hardest things to learn as a journalist is how to whittle a lot of information into a small succinct package. There’s value in this. A lot of information isn’t absolutely important to the story you’re trying to tell, and shorter stories are more digestable. And of course, not every story on NPR warrants a full hour’s discussion. Sometimes two and a half minutes is just about right.
But when I spend hours and hours interviewing someone about complex issues like the death penalty or affordable housing, it always seems like such a shame that so much “tape” gets left on the “cutting room floor.” Yes, I realize that most radio journalists don’t use tape or have cutting rooms anymore, but it’s still an evocative image, isn’t it?
I try to put the most evocative tape into my stories. But sometimes you just pick one of a thousand moments from an interview that will help you move the story along. Does that mean that nobody should hear the rest of this person’s words?
So starting with the Death Penalty story that I produced for this week’s episode of Justice Talking, I’m going to try to put some extra tape up on the web whenever I can. I’ll have a post up shortly with extended interviews.
Update: My first “behind the story” post is up, with two in-depth interviews from my death penalty feature.