When I was 10, I saw my very first James Bond film. I promptly decided that my purpose in life was to be a spy. The amazing gadgets, well-dressed people and overall awesomeness made it the most appealing career ever to my awkward, braces-filled self. Unfortunately, the CIA still hasn’t gotten back to me about my application; but thankfully, sometimes the field of journalism comes close.
I mean, just watch the classics All the President’s Men and State of Play. A plus journalistic spying right there. Though I’m not quite on the level of Woodward and Bernstein, Tuesday taught me a great lesson in the spy-inspired art of stalking. Let me just take you through the process:
Step one: Determine your mission
I received my assignment from Mission Control (a.ka. Liz Brixey): Find Larry James while he is on campus Tuesday and stalk him until he gives you an interview. Mission apprehended.
Step two: Get to know your subject
I had a bit of a learning curve in this regard, as I had already helped cover a protest held in opposition of James’s candidacy on Friday. For those of you who don’t know, James is applying for a high-ranking position within the MU College of Education. He came to MU for interviews Tuesday, bringing with him controversy of his past involvement at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prison. Mission comprehended.
Step three: Formulate a plan
Through some super cool spy work (a.k.a emailing), I found out what James’s schedule would be like for the day. I knew his interviews were being held in a building on campus and his lunch would be served at the MU Alumni Center. It was a nice day out so odds were he would walk to lunch. I knew this short time frame would probably be the only time I could casually bump into him. Mission launched.
Step four: Make it happen
Now that I had a plan, all that was left to do was make it happen. WIth few minutes to spare, I simultaneously scarfed down a sandwich and ran across campus. As I rounded the corner, I saw James and several other suits several feet ahead. I smoothly strolled up and introduced myself as, “Bauman, Caroline Bauman.” Just kidding. If only. In reality, I had a small freak out of, “Ohmuygosh I didn’t think this would actually work/what if he yells at me/what if I look stupid.” Then I took a deep breath, pulled out my notebook and caught up with him. As we walked to the Alumni Center together, we had a brief but very helpful interview. James was cordial, even when difficult questions were asked.
The moral of this story is: sometimes journalists can be spys too. And the real moral is: As journalists, sometimes we have to take risks and put ourselves in uncomfortable situations to give the public as complete a story as possible. Later that day I attended a public forum where James fielded questions from attendees and the press. Though this forum was by far the bulk of my article, my earlier interview with James provided me with a greater perspective than I would have had. Some casual stalking greatly helped me to do my job better. CIA, I’m coming for you next.