I was a bit late to it but did get a sheepskin from Northern Illinois University in 1992. One of the toughest semesters toward the degree was an upper level speech class “Interviewing.” A picture President Nixon and our professor, during her tenure with the White House Press Corps, greeting the class.
We were taught various methods of interviewing, both as -ee and as -er. We honed our skills and practiced eliciting information and persuasion with our classmates. Our final exam consisted of sitting in a sound proof room, alone with the professor, under the watchful eyes and ears of the rest of the class. Terrifying. The first day found weeping and broken students, setting a terrible tableau for those of us scheduled the following day.
My task was to interview this cruel mentoress, delving for details surrounding a particularly heinous crime. Upon receiving the assignment, details of the nefarious deed flooded from deep in my archives. I was familiar with the case. I asked a very specific question. She knew immediately that I was on to her and challenged my source. Instead I pressed her with the impunity granted by journalism and free speech- “Please ma’am, just answer the question.” Her face continued to a deep crimson, little vents of steam hissing from her ears. She demanded the interview cease and that class be called to attention. I sat fast and continued to ask my list of questions that led directly to the answer. I ended up with an A.