Some interviews never get easier for reporters and editors, and they probably shouldn't. They simply can't be easy for the people answering the questions.
Some interviews never get easier for reporters and editors, and they probably shouldn’t. They simply can’t be easy for the people answering the questions.
For a story in this month’s issue about Columbus’ alarming infant mortality rates (“Striking the Root,” page 41), I interviewed Nathan and Michelle Hurd, whose son Will, just 82 days old, died of SIDS in 2009. We spent an hour in their Grove City home talking about the aftermath of Will’s death—including their fierce dedication to reducing SIDS deaths through the nonprofit foundation they created, BabyWill.org, and Nathan’s upcoming work on a task force created by Columbus City Council president Andy Ginther.
Transcribing notes from the recorded interview a few days later, my discomfort and hesitation were palpable; you never become really sure of what to say in these situations, but you want to make sure you say it sensitively and clearly. I heard sadness in Nathan and Michelle’s voices, too, but also resolve and determination.
Because they are committed to raising awareness of SIDS, they are willing to do things like sit down with a stranger for an hour, talking about their devastating loss. We disrupted their schedules a few days later when photographer Tessa Berg took their picture for the story. They could not have been more gracious or generous.
At the end of the conversation, Nathan handed me a flash drive with photos of Will and of the annual 5K race that draws hundreds of participants and raises money for BabyWill.org. I found some quiet time in the office to go through the pictures. Will was a gorgeous, happy baby. I’m humbled that Nathan and Michelle would share such personal moments with me; seeing Will made me connect with them more deeply and, I hope, made my story that much more empathetic.
It’s true that Nathan and Michelle and the others we spoke to want to spread the word about their mission, but it still amazes me that the people we rely on to tell stories actually pick up the phone and answer questions from reporters. We’re so grateful to everyone who did and does and will speak with us. We couldn’t do it without you.