The Gameplan

The overarching theme of our Online Journalism course is the Great Migration, a historical movement that spanned the first half of the 20th Century. I won’t bore you with specifics here, as my next post will cover the GM’s background in a more detailed manner.

At the end of the semester, each student, as a member of a reporting team, will be turning in a multimedia feature package detailing the life of  a Germantown resident whose life was affected by the GM.  My partner for the project is Emily Apisa, a senior Communication major from Whitehouse Station, N.J.  This post will detail how Emily and I will execute our interviewing of Mrs. Inel Jefferson, the subject of our project.


We’ve decided that I will man the recording equipment while Emily ask Mrs. Jefferson the questions. Emily is also going to be taking some notes of her own to supplement the audio/visual recordings. Since both of us have training in multimedia production, we have agreed to the possibility of switching roles mid-project.

Meeting Mrs. Jefferson

During our first meeting on March 14,  we plan to  introduce ourselves and tell Mrs. Jefferson about our own backgrounds in order to establish rapport. When introducing ourselves, we will be honest and try to find common ground with her.  We will explain the project in our own words, so that  Mrs. Jefferson will know what to expect for the next few weeks. We will also encourage her to ask us questions she may have about the project, in an attempt to dispel any of her trepidation in participating.

We will reinforce that we want the project to be a true reflection of her life and emphasize that Mrs. Jefferson’s input will be the driving force behind our work.  Mrs. Jefferson’s comfort is of the utmost importance to us, so we want her to be at ease.  However, we don’t want her to feel patronized; we don’t want her to think we’re only asking her these questions as a novelty, or on a whim.  Emily and I are both genuinely interested in learning about Mrs. Jefferson’s life and experiences.  We have agreed that honesty is the best way to both abate Mrs. Jefferson’s  hesitations and earn her respect and trust.

Additionally, we’ve brainstormed an ice breaker question,  to use in the event that progress moves slow initially. Since we’ll be asking her about Germantown, an area that people from our walk of life have many misconceptions about, we plan on asking Mrs. Jefferson what she thinks about La Salle. If nothing else, this will show her that we’re interested in her opinion and want to see things from her perspective.

The interviewing process

While we realize that a prepared interviewer should have questions in mind, we simultaneously acknowledge that being too stringent with our planning will bog down the interview process. As such, we will be basing our projected questions around themes:

March 21­—”Before the Migration”:

Where did you live in the South? What was life like in the South? What traditions did your family have? What was a typical day like for your family? How did you spend your time together? How many siblings do you have? Did you all attend the same school? At what point did you realize that you were going to move to the North? What influenced your family’s decision? At the time, how did you react to the news that you were leaving your hometown? Were other family members or friends moving at the same time? How did your family leave the South? How long was the journey?

March 28—”After the Migration”:

Where did you end up staying in Philadelphia? What was your initial reaction to your new surroundings? What was your new house like? Was it larger or smaller than your first home? How did you adjust to your new social surroundings? Was it difficult relating to your new neighbors? Did you stay in touch with any of your friends or family back in the South? If so, how often did you communicate? Did you ever consider going back to the south? How did the Civil Rights movement affect your experiences in the north? Did you find any animosity? If so, how did you overcome it?

April 4—”Reflecting on the Migration”:

Now, as an adult, how do you feel about the Migration? Do you identify more with the south or the north? Was it worth moving?  If you were growing up today, do you think it would be easier to cope with a similar transition? Why?  Do you think that the difficulty of the move has shaped your character? Has growing up in difficult times shaped your character? Have you ever shared your story of the Migration to your grandchildren? If you have, what is their reaction? Awe? Embarrassment? If you haven’t share your story, why not?

As always, Emily and I reserve the right to amend or alter this list at any time. I guess you can say that that’s the beauty of feature writing: you never truly know which direction a story will take you. Stay tuned.


One Comment on “The Gameplan”

  1. Huntly Collins says:

    Excellent plan, Vinny. I think the two of you will do very well.