Dec 7, 2008

Behind the Book: Pitch Perfect singers describe the interview process from the subject's perspective

This summer I reviewed Mickey Rapkin's book Pitch Perfect: The quest for collegiate a cappella glory for Etude magazine. I enjoyed reading about the lives of these talented students, especially the women from the University of Oregon's female a cappella group, Divisi. Since I've lived in Eugene for two years, I've had the chance to see Divisi live a number of times and, I admit, have become somewhat of a fangirl.

After reading Pitch Perfect, I found myself wondering what the whole being-the-subject-of-a-book experience was like for these college-age singers. I mean, did they realize what they were getting into having a writer hanging out with them for the school year? Did they like how the author portrayed them? Did they feel like he captured the essence of their experience? Would they agree to be part of a book again?

And then I thought, "Well, why not ask them?"

Since the women of Divisi are literally on the same campus where I work as an adjunct professor of journalism, I decided to see if they'd be willing to share their view of the behind-the-scenes experience of being in Pitch Perfect.

Lucky for me, they were up for being interviewed again.

Listening to these young women helped me reexamine at the information gathering and fact-checking process from the perspective of the subject. I was struck yet again by how easy it is for journalists to get the little things wrong and by how much these little factual errors bother the subjects of our stories. When it's in print, it's a record of the truth, so getting it right is paramount. I was also impressed by how much these young women trusted Rapkin who became, as they said, "like a confidant."

To hear my interview with five Divisi women (and some of Divisi's fabulous music), click here. I'd be interested to hear your impressions.

And if you just can't get enough a cappella, here's a Current TV documentary that features both Divisi and Mickey Rapkin.

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