Talking with a student journalist

I’m meeting a university journalism student this evening to talk about atheism/atheists. I don’t know what the precise focus for her project is. When I talk to journalists I usually ask the first question: “So, what are we talking about?”

I’ve done a lot of  interviews with student journalists. Sometimes the interviews are for publication, sometimes not, this one is a class project – not for publication. I enjoy talking with them (yeah, that sentence could have read simply: “I enjoy talking.”). The act of talking about what I think and why is an excellent exercise which I wish I engaged in more often. It’s good to take a look at the “old” questions now and again, to remember why I addressed them as I did. A few of the interviews have ended up lasting hours, I hope the interviewers enjoyed them half as much as I did.

There are two things I try to keep in mind when doing interviews. The first is to shut up when finished. It sounds obvious but it isn’t, especially if you’re someone who can work up a good head of steam when talking. Say what you intend to say and stop. Really.

The second thing I remind myself of, and I think I’m better at this than the first, is to make it clear that I don’t speak for every atheist or even any other atheist. I try to stress again and again that my opinion on just about any question is my opinion and mine alone. There is no atheist pope, no atheist who is empowered to dictate what all atheists must think (though there are always those who try their best). So, while all my opinions are well thought out and correct in every way, I can only speak for myself.

I almost always come away from these things energized. It should be fun.


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