Amid the packed streets, the symphony of honking car horns and the shining marquee lights, it is easy to get lost in the crowd of 8 million people that make up New York. In the 2009 series "One in 8 Million," The New York Times reminded the world that each person has a unique and engaging story.
Reporters for The New York Times compiled audio and photographs from 54 New York citizens. These natural sound stories are edited in a way so that no written background or audio narration is necessary to tell the story. Here are a few of my favorites from the series and what makes them stand out.
Rivka Karasik left her community of Hasidic Jews for life in the city, a decision that was liberating and haunting. Her new life is a challenge as she acclimates to a lifestyle of newfound freedoms, such as being able to buy and wear any clothes she wants. At the end of the piece, she admits that her choice to leave was ultimately the right one, despite the troubles she faces now.
“I think life would’ve been easier and simpler had I stayed, but I couldn’t,” Karasik said.
The interviewer made Karasik comfortable enough to discuss a troubled time in her life. She admits that she cried herself to sleep growing up and thought that she was "crazy" for not fitting in. Getting such raw emotion required the interviewer to spend significant time with Karasik to build that kind of trust.
Andrew Baum, better known as "The Rookie Detective," lives a life full of car chases and run-ins with police, unless it is an average day. The private investigator said that most of his work is dull time spent sitting in a car videotaping someone. Some of his best stories, however, include being chased by a truck driver or arrested in Central Park for videotaping children.
Baum's strategy for dismissing suspicion – saying that he is a film student at New York University – was likely the answer to a double-barrel question such as, "How do you get around people’s misconceptions about what you are doing?" The details of the kinds of reactions people give when they discover Baum is investigating them could be brought out with the question "Have people you are investigating ever found out you were following them? How did they react?"
Richard Valvo, a public relations consultant, details in his profile a special assignment in which he worked with Wafah bin Laden, the niece of Osama bin Laden. At the time, Wafah was being ridiculed by the public and struggled to even get through the day. Valvo worked to get her front-page coverage and an interview with Barbara Walters to help Wafah build a positive image.
Valvo's profile includes an interesting soundbite of him "working the room." This practice includes greeting every person he knows in every room he enters. Alongside pictures of Valvo socializing over drinks, the profile includes background noise of the socializing, bringing the scene to life for listeners.
What make these, and all the other "One in 8 Million" profiles, special is that the audio is set side-by-side with photographs that enhance the story. The stories are driven by the individuals, not a narrator. In this way, the pieces are more authentic and intimate than a documentary profiling citizens of New York.
A chance to see the world from the perspective of a 6-foot-2, aspiring human rights journalist. Will include lessons learned and reflections.