** See “Journalism Idol– Part 1” for the set-up!
Since we began the Journalism Idol project, I had been thinking about contacting Nelofer for an interview. It was a long-shot. She was a busy busy woman– very important. Certainly she’d be too busy to talk to a nobody like me! But with encouragement from my mom and my prof, I decided to chance it. I contacted her through facebook, and to my surprise, she answered within a few hours!
Nelofer Agreed to do an interview with me and my groupmates and said she would spend as much time with us as we needed. I was literally in heaven and with our interview a few weeks away, I began to research her work like crazy!
The even BIGGER twist:
Since we were researching a current journalist, one of a relatively independent profile compared to the candidates our classmates had chosen, we found it really hard to get our hands on material about Nelofer and to access some of her previous work. I decided to risk looking like an idiot and fired off an email to her asking her if she had any idea where we could access some of her previous work in print, radio, tv or film. We particularly had a hard time finding her documentary films, which have not yet been put on wide release (Actually, I believe Return to Kandahar was set for release this February, almost 7 years after it was finished!)
To our surprise and utter amazement, Nelofer agreed to lend us her very own copies of her two major documentaries as well as some copies of tv work she’d done. She also sent us PDF files of some of her favorite print work to analyze. Not only did she offer us these dvd copies, but she said she’d give them to us IN PERSON. She was flying in to Ottawa to visit her family and if we met her at her parents house, she said she’d hand them over!
As the three of us walked our way through the southern Ottawa neighborhood on drawing nearer to the Pazira residence, we couldn’t believe what we were about to do. We knocked on the door and Nelofer appeared. She was quite literally one of the most radiant people any of us had ever seen. Our exchange was brief– much tripping over words and nervous giggling. We said “speak to you soon!” and left, as she was having a family gathering.
That weekend, the three of us gathered in my small basement living room and prepared for the climax of our inspirational experience. We called Nelofer at her home in Toronto but used Skype so that we could all participate. The minute she said hello, all my nervousness disappeared. She was eloquent and calm and also very detailed. She spoke in perfect quotations ( the mark of someone who’s been quoting others brilliantly for years). We spoke of her opinions on Western media, her time as a journalism student, her feelings about journalistic ethics and the changing face of the trade today. She spoke to us for over an hour, and would have kept on. After hanging up, I recall an actual squeal leaving my mouth. I had interviewed Nelofer Pazira!! Classmates, meet your Journalism Idol!
*** We presented our Journalism Idol candidate on Monday, February 8th and received an A+ as a group. I have not yet been able to get Nelofer’s permission to use parts of the interview on my blog, so stay tuned as I may be posting more on the experience/Pazira’s journalistic style.