Reliable Source

Reliable Source: When Interviews Go Wrong

Marion Cox | 13 Feb 2010 14:00
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Sometimes an editor asks you to write something that's outside your area of expertise. In this case, my editor, Greg Tito, asked me to be a normal journalist. This is just an area in which I am just not very well versed. Sure, I can write about crashing parties, fistfights, sex with strange women and drug abuse, but he thinks that I am capable of a compelling interview with a proponent of software piracy Dale Daurghty, editor of Pirate Boot-tay. I suppose I have to give it a shot.

I started how I always do - high quality research. According to his Wikipedia page, Daurghty was part of a landmark case in the late '90s. He was the first person ever arrested for modifying a console. The console in question: his Gameboy Advance. The modification: two pieces of scotch tape and a square magnifying glass he'd taken from his grandmother's reading drawer.

At the trial, the defense was horribly mismanaged, possibly due to Daurghty defending himself while wearing "footie" pajamas that read "Poop This Shit." As a result, Daurghty was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, despite being tried as a minor. He spent two years at a juvenile detention center in Little Rock, Arkansas but was released on parole shortly after his twentieth birthday.

In prison, Daurghty used his time to learn about the intricacies of law in this country. When he got out of prison, he sued several companies and Microsoft was first on the list. He claimed that their Genuine Advantage copy protection had kept him from writing his congressman, which was clearly a violation of his freedom of speech. He then sued Blizzard Activision over the Guitar Hero controller, which he claimed was made for people with big hands. Daurghty stated in his suit that Caucasians have smaller hands than Africans and that, therefore, Guitar Hero was racist.

Both lawsuits were dismissed on the grounds that he didn't have the $32 in court fees he needed to proceed with the civil suit.

But Daurghty didn't give up. He emailed several game companies saying that he'd be the perfect candidate for an internship based on his unique perspective. Oddly, none of the companies he applied to needed an expert in frivolous lawsuits or jail cells and he was forced to look elsewhere for work.

Dale turned to the old fall-back for people who have no appreciable skills and only the smallest of ambitions: he started writing. With the help of his mother he formed his internet magazine called Pirate Boot-tay, which he said "would help bring legitimacy to piracy and protect the rights of pirates across the world."

After I was confident that I knew everything about Daurghty, I set about emailing him. What tone should I use in our correspondence? Patronize him too much, and he'll think I just want something from him; act too disinterested and he'll think I don't care. When did interviewing turn into a description of my dating history? I decided it was best to keep the tone light and try to communicate with him as if I was a fellow pirate.

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