Letter to the editor

Elana Widmann | Class of 2014

I think it’s safe to say I would not have been accepted into Washington University in St. Louis in March of 2010 had my personal essay contained as many “likes” as my interview in StudLife has.

What’s my point? Well, I’ll tell you.

Amanda Packer and I were asked by StudLife to do a Skype interview in the aftermath of the most recent Israel-Hamas conflict since we are studying abroad in Israel. Little did we know, we were being recorded for a verbatim Q&A.

I am incredibly disappointed that StudLife chose not to inform its interview subjects of the style of the interview and the formatting of the article. Amanda and I were under the impression that our Skype meeting with editor-in-chief Michael Tabb was a conversation in which he would get a feel of our situation and from there create an original piece using specific quotes. We were never informed that our conversation with Michael was being recorded word-for-word for a transcript that would be visible to the entire WUSTL community and beyond. Had we been informed of his intentions, we would have asked for some time to format our answers and slowly share our thoughts, enabling us to sound more professional and cohesive.

In particular, my recount of hearing the rocket in Tel Aviv and Amanda’s anecdote about her Shabbat dinner were two of many instances that were poorly captured because of the verbatim recording.

We agreed to do the interview to be helpful to StudLife and the Wash. U. community. We would have appreciated it if StudLife had given us the courtesy of informing us of its intentions.

The Q&A published by StudLife did not accurately capture the essence of our thoughts and anecdotes. Rather, the style and structure of “Voices from the Middle East” took attention away from what we wanted to share.

I look forward to my return to Wash. U. when Amanda and I can report in person about our experiences abroad in Israel.

I just want to, like, be able to share and, like, tell everything! Like, what do you all think?


  • Dominic

    For all the douchey comments on here, shut up. I’m no fan of the English language being bastardized with a like every other word, but this is incredibly unprofessional journalism. As someone with experience in journalism, I would never do this. It is also common journalistic practice to let your interview subjects review an article like this before publication. Stud Life has always been an amateurish, unprofessional, and poorly written newspaper and this is just one in a long line of embarrassing mistakes for them. The sad thing is I don’t think this was done with any malicious intent, rather I think that Stud Life’s editor in chief was not smart enough to realize how the interview would come off. That would certainly be consistent with his writing ability and editorial standards.

    • TILII


    • Alum

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but as a professional journalist, it really isn’t common practice to send your quotes over to the person interviewed prior to submitting a story.

  • He-Man

    Yeah, those jerks, quoting your verbatim and putting everything in context so there was no chance of you being misrepresented.

  • anonymous

    So you’re complaining that you were quoted too literally? That’s a new one

    • asdf

      Accuracy is supposed to be a good thing right?

    • dan moritz

      they weren’t told that it was an interview, jerkoff. See above