WJI — Day 6: Drums, gaggles, and bad questions

Dear Reader,

When I pictured a drum circle in my mind, before today, I definitely envisioned a sort of ordered, stately ring of neo-hipsters with turbans beating small djembes and a string of women in flowing robes dancing in line to a choreographed beat.

If you have not experienced a drum circle, let me enlighten you: it is not so. It’s more like this.

Yes, all the neo-hipsters were there. There were two or three turbans present and accounted for. But in the inky blackness of Asheville’s downtown, with only two or three street lamps keeping me from tripping over the craggy town’s center, there were no such stately rings or choreographed movements. It was sweaty. The drums were not in sync. I couldn’t name half of the instruments being abused over knees, under feet, and against rocks. It smelled pretty illegal. But it was visceral, human, tribal. It was refreshing.

That was our destination tonight, right after feasting on prime Asheville pizza at Mellow Mushroom. I was in the middle of the dance ring, up in the drummers’ faces, and perched on top of rock outcroppings trying to capture the intensity of the moment. You can be the judge of whether I did that or not.

But right before leaving the World News headquarters for the Mellow Mushroom, we were with the slow-to-speak, quick-to-listen Nick Eicher. In the morning, we formed what I was told is called a “gaggle”: a huddle of reporters all fighting tooth and nail to get the best position for their microphones and shouting over each other to get their questions in. Our victims: Jordan Lorence and Matt Sharp, two real attorneys working on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) case in North Carolina. Upon further research, I have discovered that the term “gaggle” is also used to describe a group of geese. I wonder what that says about journalists.

Using the sound bytes that we captured in our pseudo-gaggle, we were supposed to craft our own radio news stories. But we ran into a slight problem. In the set up, the attorneys were supposed to be walking out of a North Carolina Senate Committee hearing (yes, these two full-grown, esteemed attorneys were playacting for our benefit), and us students were all so bent on asking intelligent, soul-searching questions that none of us ended up asking, “So what happened during the hearing?”

Thus, we all had to scratch up different, creative angles on the story that we were supposed to write about.

I plan on adding a sample of my radio broadcasting, and I’d love to hear feedback, as soon as I can figure out how to post audio files onto my website.

What a day, though! I’m tired, but very, very grateful to have learned what I learned today. I’m branching out and exploring very different areas of journalism, and was even commended for my work by the amazing Nick Eicher.

Here’s to learning more!

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