By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers
Some people say I ask too many questions. Can you believe that? A journalist asking a lot of questions? I don’t ask a lot of questions, do I? And if I do, what’s wrong with that?
At school, even in college, we’re told: “The only stupid question is an unasked question.” I must admit, though, I have heard some pretty stupid questions in my days, questions that were probably better left unasked. For the sake of my argument, however, stupid questions are good, too.
As a journalist, one of the stupidest questions I asked somebody was in 2001 when I worked for the Abilene Reporter-News in Texas. I was conducting a telephone interview with Ricky Muñoz, lead singer of the Grammy-winning Tejano/Norteño band, Intocable.
We’re chatting about the group’s upcoming performance and I ask, “Will there be any surprises?” to which Ricky cleverly responds, “Now If I told you that, then it wouldn’t be a surprise!”
It’s kind of like the dumb blonde, now infamous Jessica Simpson inquiry on MTV, the Discovery Channel of Generation X. Remember when Jessica was starring in “The Newly Weds?” While inspecting a can of Chicken of the Sea tuna, she asks “Is it tuna or chicken?” Kind of a new twist to the age-old questions, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” or “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Now why did the chicken cross the road? Did he use a crosswalk? Was it even a he, or perhaps a she? Did the chicken ever live to tell about it? And if so, how come we’ve never heard the chicken’s side of the story?
Inquiring journalists want to know.
I remember in 2004, I was telling my then-14-year-old daughter Laura about Laura Bush’s upcoming visit to the area. So I announce to my daughter, “The first lady is coming to Clovis!” and my daughter Laura looks at me, rather dumbfoundedly, and says, “The first lady … ?”
She’s waiting for me to continue, to fill in the blank, “The first lady to do what?” So I start laughing hysterically (you had to be there).
I had to explain to her that first lady is part of her title.
My friend Bernard, who says I ask too many questions — You know, like the really rude intrusive, journalistic kind, such as “How you doing today?” “Why, so sad?”
“What did you have for breakfast, and why?” — gives me a hard time about my continuous string of questions.
He does have a good one on me that he doesn’t let me forget. A few years ago, we attended an informational meeting at Eastern New Mexico University about the college’s summer Spanish Immersion Program in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, in which we both participated.
At the meeting, Mary Ayala told us about all the expectations and what we should bring for the tropical climate. When she asked if there were any questions at the end, I raise my hand. “What about cell phones? Can we take cell phones? Do they work there?”
Now don’t you think that was a valid question for a journalist to ask?
As a veteran journalist, I’m really interested in hearing your stupid questions, too. After all, in my trade, we’re known to ask questions such as:
“So what was the color of the black glove the suspect was wearing?”
So please, e-mail me your stupid questions. Better yet, send me other people’s stupid questions. I just may share them in a future column.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: