OPINION: How far would you go for an interview?


Ashley Fairchild

Fairchild’s newest tattoo done by Arran.

Hunter S. Thompson created what’s now known as “Gonzo” journalism, a kind of journalism that throws the rules of separation out the window and relies on personal involvement to get stories. He infiltrated the Hells Angels, did drugs in Vegas and more. 

Truman Capote invented “New Journalism” which allowed him to put his own responses in his work. 

Maybe they were on to something. 

As journalists, we learn to keep ourselves out of a story. It’s not our job to give opinions; it’s our job to tell the world what’s going on. But, surely that can’t be the case with all stories. 

Investigative journalism, for example, isn’t just covering a story; it’s living it. It’s more than just reporting news. It’s becoming a part of the story and putting yourself in a killer’s shoes, or becoming part of a community where a murder happened. 

Those are the stories I always find more intriguing. There’s something enticing about not just writing a piece, but letting it become a piece of you. 

After recognizing this gravitational pull towards investigative journalism, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and let a story become a part of me, permanently. 

As any journalism student knows, it’s not always easy to get a source to speak with you. I found myself in that situation for a class assignment where we needed to interview someone who had recently been in the news. After looking at my town’s paper, I saw a feature on a new tattoo shop about five minutes from my house. 

The shop is slammed. It’s hugely popular right now and appointments are booked through October. However, there’s a loophole. 

The shop has a “get what you get” machine, where artists put previous designs in a gumball machine and clients put a coin in and pay a flat rate for the tattoo. Whatever comes out is what you get tattooed on you, though you can re-roll for $20 a turn. 

I booked a GWYG appointment with the co-owner of the shop, Arran, the person I had wanted to speak to about his interview in the Somerville Times.

As someone who already had seven tattoos, I wasn’t too worried about getting one in exchange for getting a story. I initially pulled an eyeball being sliced in half with a razor, and as cool as I think I am, I couldn’t bring myself to get that. I settled on a gravestone that says “Not Today” on my forearm. 

As I sat in the tattoo chair, I got what I came for. I chatted with Arran about the shop, and the inclusive message the shop wants to spread as well as how it felt to be interviewed for a publication. 

After 45 minutes, I had my story and some new ink to add to my collection. I was thrilled. 

This solidified to me that there’s more to journalism than just making a phone call. There’s more than writing a really nice piece. Journalism, if you let it, becomes a part of you. It engages with those in your community. It shows that you can be part of the story without being the story. 

There are journalists who spend months living in a small town where a murder happened, or showing the reality of issues in sections of towns no one is covering. 

The point is, taking that extra step, diving in to get that source or follow a story, that’s what it’s about. There are many facets of journalism, but this one, it lets journalism into who you are.