How it happened: The big "get" for our Kids Press Corps
By Dante on February 9th, 2011
Ever wonder what it takes to secure those inspired, interesting interviews between the Scholastic News Kid Reporters and the big names they meet? We asked Dante A. Ciampaglia, who works with the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps, and he shared the behind-the-scenes info about how one of their most important interviews came together. Check it out! — Morgan
Every year, the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps puts together a special report to mark Black History Month. And every year, an interview with one person sits at the top of our editorial wish list: John Lewis.
The U.S. Representative from Georgia is one of the most important living connections we have to the Civil Rights movement. And befitting his status as a civil rights legend, Lewis is a tough interview to secure, if only because he’s so busy. And as it turns out, this year was not going to be any different, particularly with attention focused on Lewis and the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides. It was a great lesson for the Kid Reporters in journalistic perseverance!
Here’s how it happened.
Lewis was scheduled to be in New York to receive an award at an ImageNation event at Lincoln Center. When Kid Reporter Fred Hechinger and I arrived at the event, we found out at the last minute Lewis had to stay in Washington for a crucial House vote. He would be there for the theater audience via Skype, but that still meant no interview. Strike one.
A couple weeks later, we played the Skype angle and set up an interview with Lewis from Scholastic HQ. Everything was ready. Then his office called. Lewis was tied up in a committee meeting, they said, but he would be available to talk in a few hours. Then they called again. The Skype-enabled equipment wasn’t available. Strike two.
Things looked bleak. We tried getting another Skype interview together, but Congress had changed its rules and prohibited congressmen from using Skype in their offices. We were about to throw in the towel, but then we remembered, we’re the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps – quitting is not an option! So as a last ditch effort, we tried setting up an interview with Lewis at his office in Washington.
It worked. We got the interview. Kid Reporter Henry Dunkelberger met Lewis at his office and they talked about Lewis’ life as a civil rights leader, the Freedom Rides, and what he hopes his legacy has been. In other words, it was an oral history of the Civil Rights movement from one of its last remaining voices.
We couldn’t have asked for a better payoff. And for those of us who doubted it would ever happen, we were reminded that we should instead always work for the best results.
But now the question is: who do we want to interview next year?
Check out the Kid Reporter interview with John Lewis below:
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