Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Q&A on the streets of Milan and Saline

Finally, after more than five years here at the papers, I did my first Street Talk over the weekend. Street Talk is that regular feature on the Commentary page where random residents respond to usually innocuous questions such as "What is your favorite pie?" and we run their picture above their answer (e.g., "Pumpkin."). The reporter usually nabs people at the grocery store or at a coffee shop. I have the feeling that most everybody reads Street Talk -- it's quick, it's fun, and you never know if you might see the face of someone you know. I think readers enjoy Street Talk.

But here's a secret: a lot of the reporters seem to hate it. People, they complain, don't want to answer the question or don't want their photo taken. The reporters get tired trying to come up with interesting questions week after week.

Here's another secret: to enjoy doing Street Talk it appears you have to do it only once every five years. Because I got a kick out of it.

I enjoyed coming up with the question and I enjoyed approaching people to ask them. Only one said he didn't want to to do it. And while most complained about getting their picture taken, they all agreed in the end.

Here was my question: You're familiar with the song "The 12 Days of Christmas." If there were a 13th day of Christmas, what would you want your true love to bring to you?

Now, I thought that was a pretty fun question, but people had a more difficult time answering it than I thought they would. I thought people might say, "13 gargling gargoyles" or "13 playful puppies." I was surprised to find some took the question literally, which is fine, I just wasn't expecting that (after all, who really wants 13 of anything). I imagine being stopped on the street and asked a question out of the blue doesn't necessarily catch people in their most imaginative moment.

I get to do Street Talk again for the Dec. 27 editions, and I can't wait. Be looking for me. I'm trying to come up with my question now -- something tricky, but not too tricky; something clever, but not too clever; something provoking, but not too provoking. That is the challenge!

I'm open to suggestions, by the way. Let me know if you've got a good idea for a Street Talk question.

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