Devon – The Shop

Alvin "Al" Brown uses the clippers on one his customers at The Shop.

When our group first decided to do our multimedia project on The Shop I was a little apprehensive. It wasn’t the story I pitched so I wasn’t sure whether the angle would work, or how well our sources would interview. When we actually got to work, and started doing our interviews, my attitude changed.

While the video component of our package focused on the diversity of The Shop, the print story I prepared told the story of our interview subject, Bilal “Al” Adams, and how he made his way to Morgantown from Brooklyn, N.Y. When approaching a profile like this, I generally like to know some about the person so I have an idea of my angle. This is so I know whether a profile is the best option for the story or if I should find another angle. After we failed to get our first interview I became worried because, at that point, if the subject was not cooperative or didn’t have any good stories to tell I would be scrambling, but once I got to know Al, I knew we had something good.

Al not only has an incredible story, he is willing to provide a narrative of that story. One thing that really stuck out to me was when he said the first time he came to Morgantown was for a football game between West Virginia University and the University of Miami. I’ve been going to WVU football games my whole life, and one of my earliest, clear memories of WVU football is Tremain Mack’s punt block to beat an undefeated and highly-ranked WVU team. Of course, before I could say anything about it, Al mentioned the blocked punt. It was interesting to hear a different perspective about the game. Once he told this story the interview opened up and I was able to ask the questions I needed to ask. Being able to relate over the memory of that event definitely helped me get what I needed to make the article.

Even though Al was willing to share a lot, their were some things he didn’t want to go into detail about. I would like to get a chance to interview a family member or childhood friend, and I would also like to talk to J.T. Thomas because of the role he played in bringing Al to Morgantown. These interviews would provide important perspective for Al’s already intriguing narrative.

This project started slowly for our group, but turned into something really good. The slow start and unfamiliarity with the subjects made me apprehensive at first, but after a short conversation I was confident. I knew this would be something worthwhile and compelling. I learned to be a lot more open about stories, at least until I get my feet a little wet. If I had been a little more open to the story I would’ve been more pro-active and I could’ve gotten even more of his story or another source to add depth to the narrative. After the slow start, I am more than pleased our results.

Here are a few photos we didn’t use in our package:

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