As a writer, I’ve learned that it’s easy to tell a story when all the participants quickly agree to talk to you, but it’s more rewarding when you find a way to tell the story without their help. I faced this challenge recently when Delaware Today magazine asked me to take a close look at the company (DuPont) and the family (du Pont, with a lower-case “d” and a space before the “P”) that are most closely identified with the First State. While I did talk to many du Ponts, an even larger number declined. As for the company, despite some promises early in my research, none of their top executives was willing to sit down for an interview, either in person or by phone.
Nevertheless, the story was written, and perhaps it turned out better because most of my interview subjects have been watching the company and interacting with family members for several decades. They were able to provide inside knowledge without being self-serving.
To see how the company and the family have changed in Delaware, take a look at my cover story. You might also want to see how WHYY-TV summarized the article. If you’re patient enough to see it through, you’ll catch my moment of fame near the end.