I’m writing a story for SB Nation about a guy who refused to let me interview him. Also, most of the people who know him refused to let me interview them, on the record, for the story.
Typically, I interview no fewer than a dozen people for a story. I commonly interview at least 20, and I’ve interviewed more than 100 for some stories.
I’ve been working on this story for months. I’ve got one of his friends on the record. One. That’s it.
This happens pretty regularly for journalists. It’s especially common in politics and business and the like, but you might be surprised to know that even when you’re writing a good story about somebody, they don’t want you to do that. In my case, as with most of my stories, I want to write about this guy because he has an incredible story that I know the world would want to read.
This isn’t the first time it’s happened to me, but it’s the first time it’s happened and I’ve gone forward with writing about the person, anyway. My deadline is Tuesday, and the story is scheduled to be published a week after that.
I’ve never written a story like this before. It’s been an interesting challenge, and it’s definitely forced me to grow as a journalist and as a writer.
So what do you think? Is it wrong to write about someone who doesn’t want to be interviewed and, it’s safe to assume, doesn’t want you to write about them?
I’m going to post some thoughts in the comments, and I’d like you to do the same. I think this could make for a fun and meaningful discussion.