Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Better Knowledge, two

NPR marketplace reporter Sean Cole on coming clean with the personal pronoun.

We all have little “shock of recognition” moments when a world of possibility reveals itself. Sandy Tolan asking, “can you believe me?” on the radio was one of mine. I didn’t know you could refer to yourself in a radio news story. I didn’t know you could “break down the fourth wall” like that, that you could be so direct and frank with your listeners; that you could suggest that you were anything but an incorporeal voice. But listen to that moment again. It’s not about Sandy. It’s acknowledging a question that every listener, right then, was surely asking. It’s a crucial point about the inherent dangers of reporting on oneself. He could have said something more benign like, “There are inherent dangers in reporting on oneself,” and the most interesting thing that happened to me that day would have been my sandwich. His choice was so much more elegant, intimate and, above all, arresting. Paradoxically, Sandy asking, “can you believe me?” is what made me believe him. (Plus, he went on to explain the editorial process for the series.) His “me” did that work for him.

Go Sean. Happy hols!

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