Questions I asked Laura Herberg, WDET “Community Reporter”
- Who are you and where are you from?
- How did you get into this public radio industry? Why did you go to the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine?
- What do you do as a “Community Reporter” here at WDET? How does your role differ from other staffers in the News department?
- You’ve mentioned that you bought a house. How was that process? Where can you call home?
- Do you have any advice for me or anyone thinking of pursuing a career in any media industry?
I decided to interview Laura because she was one of the very first people to introduce herself to me and ask me for my name and how to pronounce it. I get that a lot — “How do you say your name?” And I always say that I don’t care because I don’t. The “proper” way to pronounce it is the Hispanicized way, but I only like for fellow Latinxs to say it that way when we’re talking (and only really in Spanish.) Regardless, Laura was nice about it! I also wanted to interview her because Jerome is literally so busy constantly. He literally doesn’t stop working when he’s at work and it’s awesome and terrific.
I was kind of nervous to ask Laura for an interview. Not because I’d thought she’d say no, but because it’s just weird to ask anyone for an interview. And that’s weird because that’t literally what journalists do for career and living. So, it was good practice!
The interview itself was a very casual conversation that was originally intended to be recorded in one of the studios. That would have been super cool to do since she would have taught me how to do those in-studio, in-person interviews. But that didn’t pan out! So, instead we went to the empty greenroom and just talked for an hour. Which was a long time but it flew by.
I started off by telling her a bit about myself and the Semester in Detroit program because it would be weird not to. That divulged into many interesting topics like where she is from and how she got here to Detroit. Originally, Laura is from the Portland, Oregon area and did her undergrad around the Pacific Northwest area. She graduated in 2005/2006. A few years later she went to the other Portland in Maine to study at The Salt Institute of Documentary Studies because to wanted to be a documentarian. Post-graduation from that Master’s program she had to stick around because money doesn’t grow on trees, but apparently some British tourists had told her Detroit was really cool. And since she’s only ever heard the negative narrative of Detroit, she wanted to move here and find out. She also basically begged for an internship at WDET but they thought she was crazy since she was still in Maine. But she got it and moved over here to the Woodbridge neighborhood.
I don’t want to recount every single detail of the conversation, but one of the most prominent things that came up was how she recently bought a home! She did a direct purchase from a homeowner in Highland Park and paid a fair-market value of about $85,000. And I asked her about integrating and becoming a neighbor and community member. Her response was what I believe the general anxieties felt by any home-buyer. But it’s also complicated because she is a journalist and community reporter and since she lives on the same block as the mayor and other officials of Highland Park, that’s tricky to navigate.
I believe that this interview was overall good. I got to know one of my fellow “coworkers” and more about what it’s like working in a media industry. I think I’d like to, if not in radio than something else most likely. Or maybe I’ll go to grad school for a PhD program. We’ll see!
(initially written in journal on 6/7/18)