Getting the Goods - Interviews that Work (Session 2)


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Pulitzer Prize-winner Jacqui Banaszynski leads this free, two-day webinar, "Getting the Goods -- Interviews that Work," sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism.

For more information about free training for business journalists, please visit

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Getting the Goods - Interviews that Work (Session 2)

  1. 1. Getting  the  Goods:  Interviews  that  Work  Jacqui  Banaszynski  Knight  Chair  in  Editing  at  the  University  of  Missouri  May  8-­‐9,  2013  
  2. 2. THE MASTERS: Metzler, Sawatsky•  KEN METZLER: Longtimeprofessor and author fromUniversity of Oregon. Wrote‘Bible’ of interviewing texts.•  JOHN SAWATSKY: Canadianinvestigative reporter anduniversity professor; ESPNinterviewing coach•  Studied and shared wisdom abouteffective questions
  3. 3. POWER OF WHAT?HOW? WHY?•  WHAT questions seekmore information, scene,anecdote.•  HOW questions get atexplanation and causality.•  WHY questions get atmotivation, attitude,character, opinion.Photo by flickr user Andreas Kollegger
  4. 4. LET’S WORK ON QUESTIONS•  ASSIGNMENT: Interview a50-something factory workerwho lost his job in therecession. He’s not oldenough to retire, not youngenough to retrain.Your curiosity:How does it feel to be in yoursituation? Photo by flickr user Workers4AmericaLet’s find questions that help him answer.Frame your interest in What? How? Why? questions.
  5. 5. TIP 1: REVEAL EMOTION andCHARACTER•  Ask not how people feel (or think)but what they do.–  What did you do on the last day at work?Right after you locked the doors for thelast time?•  Ask about specific moments oractions.–  What was your favorite day on the job?•  Put questions in a frame.–  What will you miss most?–  If there are three things you could havedone differently, what would they be?Photo by flickr user merfam
  6. 6. THE MASTERS: Isabel Wilkersonon “Accelerated Intimacy”•  Interviewing as relationship•  Interviewing as multi-phaseprocess•  Approach and attitude moreimportant than specificquestions–  Audition for the right subject/storyteller–  Create partners–  Create storytellers
  7. 7. POLL QUESTION 1What are theprimary reasonspeople aremotivated to talkto reporters?Photos by flickr users Reporter deFuturo and Reporter do Futuro
  8. 8. TIP 2: CREATE PARTNERS•  Give subjects areason to investand trust.– Tap theirmotivation.•  Demystify yourprocess, but keepneeded control.Photo by flickr user Studio Roosegaarde
  9. 9. What does off-the-record mean?POLL QUESTION 2Photo by rpongsaj
  10. 10. TIP 3: NEGOTIATE TERMS UPFRONT•  Don’t assume sharedunderstanding or agreement.•  Explain your purpose, process andcontext.•  Determine source concerns.–  Ask questions to find solutions.Photo by flickr user Victor1558
  11. 11. TIP 4: DIFFERENTIATE SOURCES,RELATIONSHIPS & ETHICS•  Officials, public figures,experts, celebrities–  Equal players, power dynamics•  Vulnerable–  Considerations of ethics, ID,credibility and compassion•  Ordinary folk–  Context and “informed consent”Photo by flickr user jturn
  12. 12. POLL QUESTION #3How/where doyou do themajority of yourinterviews?Photo by flickr user Shine 2010 - 2010 World Cup good news
  13. 13. TIP 5: SPEND TIME, SLOW DOWN•  Plan ahead to maximizetime.•  Pace the interview withyour notebook.•  Give people time to think,remember, articulate.•  Probe and peel.-- With What? How? Why? questionsPhoto by flickr user sskennel
  14. 14. TIP 6: FOR EVERY QUESTION,ASK 5 MORE• Be an active, interestedlistener.• Listen and developstoryteller questions:–  “Start at the beginning.”–  “Give me an example.”–  “Tell me about a time.”–  “Tell me more.”–  “Uh huh.” “Wow.” Hmmm.”–  Really? Really! Really.Photo by flickr user gmilldrum
  15. 15. TIP 7: KEEP SHUT UP•  Let silence work for you….
  16. 16. LET’S WORK ON QUESTIONS•  ASSIGNMENT: You must do adeadline interview/profile of alocal artisan who won aMacArthur Genius Grant. Hehandcrafts bows for stringedinstruments, and has found away to bridge the best of old-world standards and modernmusic expectations.Photo by flickr user EduardoFrancés Bruno - LuthierYour curiosity: What was your reaction, and what, exactly is ityou do that makes you so smart?What questions could help you gather color, emotion andsparkling quotes very quickly?
  17. 17. TIP 8: SEEK OUT “NATIVE HABITAT”•  Try to interview or envisionpeople in the context thatinforms the story purpose.•  Set a scene or see action.•  Notice meaningful details orsurroundings.•  Use props or artifacts asstorytelling prompts.–  Photographs, books, personaltreasures–  Status details (report out forrelevancy)Photo by flickr user U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service- Northeast Region
  18. 18. TIP 9: REPORT WITH ALL SENSES•  Pay attention not just to whatthe person says but to…–  Other sounds–  Sights–  Touch–  Taste–  SmellUse sensory detail to paintscenes or to prompt betterquestions.Photo by flickr user gingerbydesign
  19. 19. And the SIXTH SENSE•  Pay attention to your ownemotion or perception.– Tap your humanity.– Inform reader reaction/curiosity through your own.– Channel it into betterquestions.
  20. 20. Poll Question #4•  On average,how long aremost of yourinterviews?Photo by flickr user wwarby
  21. 21. TIP 10: BE COLUMBO•  Always do a second interview.•  Move to a close, then reopen.–  Linger and listen.–  Ask what is most important to know orunderstand.–  Ask for elaboration on a gap in yournotebook.–  Ask whom else to talk to or whatothers would say..•  Use fact-checking as a secondinterview.•  ALWAYS ask… “How do you know?” Photo copyright NBC UniversalTelevision
  22. 22. TIP 11: DARE TO BE STUPID•  Ask what you don’t know ordon’t understand.•  Ask what you think you knowthat you might not.•  Clarify terms, jargon,understanding.–  Restate it in your ownlanguage or understanding.•  Seek plain-speak analogiesor examples.Photo by flickr user Candie_N
  23. 23. QUESTIONS?••  Twitter: @JacquiBPhoto by flickr user Marco Bellucci