Why was my profile of Brad Shaw so good? Read this to find out: The Cable Guy: How I Fell for Brad Shaw (September 2011, Alberta Venture).* I wrote this piece before I started drafting the feature, to put it out there and out of me so I would be able focus on the feature properly. In the excerpt below, I make it sound as if the empathy for and connection with him were something I wanted to put aside in order to “do the job.” I suppose I may have believed it at the time. Or perhaps evenback then I just thought it made a good story? Because when I reflect on my best interviews, the times when I got the best material, spun the best story–what those times invariably have in common is that connection with the subject. That compassion, empathy, that link. I may not like them–but I am connected. I understand. I can enter into their thoughts, words and actions with empathy, I can see them from the inside.
Once I have that, I have everything.
Sister piece: Exclusive Profile of Brad Shaw, the CEO of Shaw Communications (September 2011, Alberta Venture). Sister post: Brad Shaw exposed.
The quote that says it all:
But I like him. I really like him. This is, frankly, not good. I don’t want to like him: it makes my job harder. He’s supposed to be character in my story, moldable into the part I need for effective presentation. And he’s gone and turned himself into a person―a person who, as he talks to me, trusts me. Completely. Isn’t the least bit worried that I might somehow screw him. Is, simply, Brad Shaw, talking about life, Shaw, and the universe, revealing his vulnerabilities and fears as readily as he reveals his enthusiasms and passions.
* Fun fact: the editors called me a “hard-nosed journalist” in the story’s kicker. And I’m not. I never describe myself as a journalist, or even a reporter. I’m a writer. Can you tell why?