Guest Blog: ‘How’s Your News?’

The following guest blog comes to us from Barb McKenzie, an active TASH member and chairperson of Ohio TASH.

I was recently sent a link to a March 8, 2002, radio broadcast from the show “This American Life” on Chicago WBEZ. In one segment of the broadcast, host Ira Glass interviewed three of the people involved in making the documentary, “How’s Your News,” about a team of developmentally disabled people who travel across the country doing man-on-the-street interviews. Two of the people interviewed were the reporters with developmental disabilities and the third was the director of the film. The film was screened across the country and world at film festivals and in theaters. The group eventually went on to have a show in 2008-09 on MTV. Perhaps many reading this blog already have heard of this group and seen the video or MTV shows and have opinions one way or another, but this was my first time hearing about it.

I found the selected sound clips from the video and this particular interview fascinating. Even the interviewer was learning as he talked with the reporters and film director – and hopefully others hearing the broadcast were too.

Words that popped up in my mind as I listened included OPPORTUNITY, EMPOWERMENT, PERCEPTIONS, DISCOVERY, UNEXPECTED, AUTHENTIC, NATURAL, and WONDERFUL. The director and the interviewer seemed sensitive to not exploiting a “feel good story,” which often happens with this kind of tale. The director even referred to there being no “Olympic” moment in the video and when he started to fall into a slightly sentimental story ending, the radio interviewer reminded him that he might have to stop him from falling into that.

I loved that the reporters were not scripted and free to ask what they wanted – which was much more interesting and real. They seemed to easily put those they were interviewing at ease, or at least off guard. I wondered what they would ask politicians, business people, educators, and other professionals. I was guessing that we might get some more interesting answers and not the scripted messages we often get.

I am only responding to this radio segment, but I would love to hear if others know more about this. It seems like a great idea to explore – maybe not the MTV part, but offering a microphone to those who are marginalized and often not heard and seeing what interests them and what they want to ask.

Listen to this segment below, which begins 4:55 minutes into the program, or visit This American Life.