Do you guys ever watch the music video for Sam Smith’s “I’m not the only one” and have all these mess of feelings because of Dianna Agron? Cause I do. I know we’re not supposed to hold an actor to a character, but there’s so much Quinn in the video character… Like, I can totally see that happening if Glee had stayed on air for longer and actually followed Quinn’s story after high school.
I can see Quinn marrying that dude who had a brilliant law future ahead of him and treated her like a princess during college. He was polite, handsome and wealthy and it was what was expected of her. And even after so many years and so many deviations from course, she can’t quite shake the image of the perfect little family she should have, according to her upbringing. She thinks he’s kind of boring but he loves her (at least at first) and she haven’t heard from Rachel in years, so she says yes when he proposes.
The newly weds happiness doesn’t last. She is bored out of her mind being the perfect little housewife and soon enough she starts spending less and less time at home with her. And when Quinn goes to one of his work events and meets one of the only female partners at his firm, she instantly knows, that even if there’s nothing between them yet, it’s only a matter of time. Still, she smiles at the woman, makes small talk and pretends she doesn’t see the way she looks at her husband and the way he looks back at her.
For a while, things go on like that. She’s miserable, lonely and turning a blind eye. She was never in love with him, but she’d thought he was a good man and that he loved her. That illusion is out of the window now. One day, though, she sees Rachel’s face in an add somewhere online. And all those feelings she tried so hard to bury for so many years come rushing back with a vengeance at the mere sight of the brunette’s face.
So she takes a hard look at her life and realizes that she can’t do this anymore. She can’t pretend to be this blind suburban housewife that seat home and does nothing but read romance novels and cook dinner all day. She can’t be miserable anymore. She can’t pretend she’s not still in love with Rachel Berry.
So she tells him. She says that she knows about the affair and that she wants a divorce. He laughs and looks at her like she’s crazy. Pretends not to understand what she’s talking about. Tells her to stop with this nonsense and that he’ll see her later, but that now he’s late for work. He kisses her cheek and leaves, still shaking his head.
Just like that, as if someone flipped a switch, she is head cheerio Quinn Fabray again. No more subdued housewife. HBIC Quinn Fabray is back. This woman knows how to get what she wants. And what she wants is to get divorced from this man, move to New York and fight for a chance to win Rachel’s heart.
She hires a PI to get prove of the affair and once she has it, she makes him sign the divorce and manages to get a really nice check out of him too, for all the humiliation she’s felt, threatening to leak the pictures to his bosses if he doesn’t give her what she wants. The firm has a morality clause and he’d loose his job if work got out, so he agrees.
And then, finally, she stops denying herself and goes after her dreams. She finds a small place in New York and despite not having worked for the last couple of years, she had been top of her class at Yale and her teachers had loved her. So she sends them a few emails, to see if they have connections in the city. They do, and soon enough she has a job as an assistant editor at one of the city’s biggest publishing houses. She loves it and can’t figure out why she had stopped working when she got married.
Almost everyday now, she sees Rachel’s face. The girl had made it. Her face was on billboards, on buses and on the subway as the newest Broadway starlet. For a few months, Quinn is content to admire her from a distance. She goes see Rachel’s show a couple of times, but never goes to the stage door. She is getting used to the city and that’s fine for the moment. She’s just enjoying getting to know the city and Rachel’s probably already with someone anyway, so why go to her, only to have her heart broken?
She finally takes a chance one night when she hadn’t even been to see the show. She’s passing by the theatre where Rachel works and she hears the crowd’s noise get louder outside of the doors and she knows Rachel has just gotten out. She crosses the street and stand by the end of the crowd. Centuries seem to go by before Rachel is done signing everyone’s Playbills and taking selfies, but then it happens. Rachel’s eyes fall on Quinn and they gaze at her, piercing her soul. Several emotions passing through the expressive brown orbs, from surprise, to disbelief to happiness.
“Quinn!” Rachel exclaims, before taking a few steps and evolving the blonde in a tight embrace.
“Hey, Rach” Quinn says, returning the hug just as tightly and enjoying the smell of Rachel’s shampoo filling her nostrils.
They take a step back and smile at each other happily. “You’re probably tired from the performance, but, uh, would you like to have a drink with me? We could catch up…”
“Yeah! I’d love too!” Rachel says with excitement. “I know a place.”
And that’s how it starts. The beginning of Quinn’s happy ending.
In public radio, it goes without saying that the public – our existing audience and otherwise – should be at the heart of everything we do. One way to bring more of those people into our reporting is through social callouts, where we ask the wider world to share their stories, photos and thoughts on any number of topics.
NPR has done a variety of these in recent years and we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. After reviewing some basics, we’ll look at case studies for six different types of callouts.
Making a callout happen
Every callout essentially has five steps.
Hone the question and pick your platforms
Write the pitch
Review the responses; contact and vet participants
Write the story; think about how to maximize responses on air and online
The first step – honing the question – is arguably the most important part. Be specific about what you’re asking for and set it up with context. Provide examples whenever possible so you can get people thinking in the same vein. Be clear about how you’ll use their answers. And consider how the reader will feel in that moment when they’re deciding whether or not they want to participate.
You should also be thinking, early on, about where you’ll share your callout. Yes, you should hit Twitter and Facebook. But you should also think about the niche online communities where your pitch might land particularly well. Reporter Danny Zwerdling, for example, shared a callout for injured nurses on a couple of nursing listservs. For this story about a corncob pipe manufacturer, St. Louis Public Radio went looking on the PipeTobacco subreddit for someone who actually smokes with one.
When sharing it, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Producer Davar Ardalan has a go-to list of well-connected people she shares her callouts with when she’s trying to reach different demographic communities, like Latinos and African Americans.
The methods for reviewing responses are largely individual. When I’m looking at answers in a spreadsheet, I like to add extra columns that allow me to sort and filter by theme, good answers, etc.
Obviously, the same rules we live with for vetting sources in every other part of journalism also apply to social sourcing. It’s easy to get burned if you don’t do approach it with a critical eye and do your homework.
When it comes time to write the story, think about how you’ll present the responses differently on air and online. Chances are, the same method won’t work well for both. For an example, compare the audio version of this segment on Thanksgiving grace traditions to the Web build.
I also like to use Storify to collect answers submitted across various social sites, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more (an example here with the “objects that make you feel manly”).
And although it may take a bit of time, always follow up. Thank everyone for participating and send them a link to the final story. You don’t want people to feel like they’ve poured their heart and soul into a black hole.
Read on for case studies of six common callout types.
I’m trying to … find a specific type of source
Source callouts are among the most popular and effective callouts we do at NPR. We’re helped by a large following on Facebook (4.2 million as of this writing). But that can pose a couple of problems, too.
Sometimes we do callouts that get over 10,000 responses (as we did for this story) and they’re nearly impossible to parse. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s important to consider sharing callouts with different communities. Going beyond Facebook can improve your chances of finding the voices you need by narrowing your callout to communities specifically interested in the question you’re asking.
In one recent callout, however, it was actually helpful for us to target people who are already NPR fans. Weekend Edition Sunday was looking for someone who opposed a terminally ill family member’s wish for assisted suicide. It’s a fraught and sensitive topic and it’s not surprising that the show’s producers didn’t get an overwhelming number of responses when they posted it to Facebook.
But the show did get exactly what they needed. Scott Schwimmer wrote in about his father, Robert, who has pancreatic cancer. Because the family loved NPR, they agreed to come into a studio together for an interview with Rachel Martin. The result is really must-listen radio.
I’m trying to … crowdsource images
Photo callouts can work really well online. They can also turn into good radio segments with a little extra work. We had that experience with the #nprcensus callout for the New Boom series on millennials.
Because millennials are such a large and diverse group, we wanted to incorporate a social project that helped give them a face. Morning Edition producer Selena Simmons-Duffin had the idea for a “census” where we asked 18- to 34-year-old’s to send us a selfie with their demographic categories on one side and the descriptive categories they wish they could use on the other.
We received hundreds of responses through Instagram and Twitter. To tie it all back to the radio, I interviewed a couple of them about their varied millennial experiences for a segment to wind down the series on All Things Considered.
Sometimes finding story ideas can be as easy as just asking your audience: What should we cover? Former NPR intern (and now Wyoming Public Radio reporter) Miles Bryan did just that in the Los Angeles subreddit last year.
When doing something like this in reddit, it’s a good idea to message the moderators of the subreddit beforehand. Having their buy-in will go a long way toward a having a successful callout. Otherwise reddit tends to be allergic to anything it perceives as self-promotion.
Though counterintuitive, callouts sometimes work well when you don’t know what you’re looking for. That was the case for a series Melissa Block did on trade lingo. She wanted to talk to folks across professions and industries about the weird words or phrases they use at work that outsiders might not understand.
The nature of the callout meant that producers Theo Balcomb and Rachel Rood had no idea what words they might get. So they put out a call using a Google Form (a survey that feeds into the spreadsheet you see below) that was shared on Facebook and Twitter.
The response was excellent. They heard from all sorts of people, including seabird biologists, skydivers and video game designers.
Voicemail or voice memos also work well for this type of callout. Smartphones have made it very easy for someone to record their voice and email the file. (The internal mics tend to be pretty good!)
I’m trying to … start a discussion
A callout can also be a way to start an open discussion with the audience that informs the direction of your reporting, as well as find sources. NPR’s Identity and Culture Unit recently used a callout like this for conversations led by Michel Martin about the fear of black men.
There are a couple of things to note about this callout. In the survey, Morning Edition producer Jessica Pupovac had respondents drop themselves into different categories (“I’ve been in situations where I’ve felt anxious because of the presence of black men”; “I’m a black man who has experienced the irrational fear of others simply because of who I am”; etc.). That made sorting the responses much easier. She also allowed people to share their thoughts but request to not be contacted. This option likely helped them acquire a wider array of experiences.
I’m trying to … have fun
And you may want to do a callout just for the sake of having fun with your audience. That was the case with this storyWeekend Edition did about music designed specifically for cats.
Producer Sarah Handel Card asked listeners to play the music for their pets and report back (spoiler alert: reactions ranged from manic to unmoved).
If you’ve done a successful callout or have questions about putting one together, I’d love to chat. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.