In my research for Gluten-Free Living I’ve spoken with many experts, focusing particularly on celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. I’ve had the privilege of several fascinating conversations with Joseph Murray, M.D., at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
Most articles call for me to interview various people, then select a few smatterings of insight to include. This is one of the hardest parts of journalism: passing judgment on the relevance and erudition of other people’s words, and getting it right.
If I were writing a corporate publication I could let the person proofread my interpretation, but for a journalist this is inappropriate. Certainly, I check facts with the people I interview, but to some extent I must trust my own understanding of what was said. This requires serious homework beforehand and never being afraid to ask stupid questions, especially when discussing something as complicated as an auto-immune disorder.
Last year Dr. Murray wrote Mayo Clinic Going Gluten Free, a definitive volume for anyone who needs to follow the diet. The book became available in November. Gluten-Free Living asked me to do a question-and-answer format story with the author.
As I recall, I received a review copy about 48 hours before the interview. I’m no speed reader, but it was fascinating to wade through. Besides that, I had been following research in this area for a while, so I had some questions he didn’t address in the book.
I took more of his time than usual: a full hour. It was, for me, one of the most interesting interviews I’ve done. Big sections needed to be cut to fit the space available. Fortunately one of these cut questions inspired a further article slated to appear in the March/April issue of the magazine. But essentially, I was able to share with readers most of this stimulating conversation.
If you haven’t already seen it in the magazine, I hope you’ll enjoy it now. I’ve added the PDF to my portfolio page: Writing the Book on Gluten Free: Celiac Disease Expert Joseph Murray Pens a How-To guide.
One of the things I love best abut journalism is telling other people’s stories, and what they know. Dr. Murray is one of those fascinating people with great passion for their work, and it’s satisfying to be in a position of interpreting his knowledge for other people.
Photo of Joseph Murray courtesy of Mayo Clinic.