Sunday, August 10, 2008

Learning a new reporting lesson

My BookCrossers story is in the paper today.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as I hoped. Like the “observer effect” in psychology, I think my presence and that of the photographer changed the behavior of the article’s subjects. They usually do things very much on the sly, and I anticipated them lurking in the shadows and stealthily placing books throughout the plaza, then watching to see their books being “caught.”

I tried to avoid “observer effect” by interviewing the organizer on the phone a couple of days before the event and then meeting and talking to the participants before they left for Graceland. But they beat me to Graceland by a few minutes and the photographer was already waiting for them, so when I walked up all the books had been placed on a table for the photographer to take shots, and a crowd of tourists had gathered to select some of the books.

Anyway, no use crying over spilt milk, but I will try to figure out what I could have done differently and try to avoid “observer effect” in the future.

2 comments:

mike boyd said...

Nice article, Lisa! I'm more inspired than ever to use BookCrossing as a way to recycle books. (My biggest problem with any form of book disposal is that I hate to get rid of them. It's like kicking old friends out of the house!)

Tecla said...

Thanks for writing this.