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Interviewing Tips
 

Interviewing Tips

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This slideshow focuses on interviewing techniques by journalists.

This slideshow focuses on interviewing techniques by journalists.

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    Interviewing Tips Interviewing Tips Presentation Transcript

    • Interviewing JOURN 305 Chapter 10
    • Interviewing
      • Your goal is to get accurate and interesting information for your story
      • There are several strategies available to get your subject to talk
    • Building Trust
      • A source that trusts you will be more likely to open up
      • To establish trust, you may need to spend some time with the subjects
      • If you are on a “beat,” then you may want to socially network with your most important recurring sources
    • Building Trust
      • Remember that your sources are human beings
      • They will respond better to you if you have a good track record with them
      • Honesty and empathy always work!
    • Funnel Interview
      • Save your toughest questions for last
      • This enables time to build trust with your interview subject
    • Trustbusters
      • “ Burning” a source with bad ink
      • Misquoting a source
      • Identifying an anonymous source
      • Misrepresenting your intentions
      • Failure to answer any concerns/questions that the source may have before the interview
    • Trustbusters
      • Your first encounter with the source is critical since the first impression is made
      • In most cases, you will want to put the source at ease
      • However, in some serious interviews, you will deliberately want to use the tension to your advantage
    • Tension Strategy
      • When you know a subject is being deceitful, it might be good to keep the tension so that the subject’s true motives are more transparent
    • Inverted Funnel
      • Tough, specific questions first
        • Use if you have little time
        • Use if you need to nail down an answer
    • Preparing for the Interview
      • Preparation strategies for the interview will vary
      • What kind of interview are you doing?
        • News
        • Profile/Feature
        • Investigative
        • Broadcast TV/radio
    • The News Story
      • Use all available resources to research the history of the subject covered
      • Go direct to the source – but don’t expect them to tell you the “whole story”
      • An “off the record” insider may help you get a fresh perspective
    • “ Off the Record”
      • Hotly debated topic
      • Is it ethical to gather info “off the record”?
      • Should everything be fair game?
      • Can you use information gained “off the record” without directly quoting the information or source?
    • Sources
      • Some sources will want to remain anonymous
      • If you agree to keep their identity private, it is unethical to reveal their names to anyone
        • Exceptions:
          • Government subpoena
            • If it is determined to jeopardize the national security or is essential is solving a crime
          • Publication policy
            • Due to some problems with reporter integrity, some publications are now requiring reporters to share the identity of the anonymous reporter with their supervising editor
    • Use Caution
      • Be aware of sources that have an axe to grind
      • Do they have an agenda?
      • Are they telling the truth?
      • Are they reliable?
        • Substance abuse = suspicion
      • Do they really have a direct connection to the news event?
        • Be careful of “hearsay”
    • Off the Record
      • If a subject tries to go “off the record,” you should try to get them to stay “on the record”
      • Usually they will still talk
      • Tell them you need the attribution for the sake of credibility
      • Or…you can return to the topic in an “on the record” question later in the interview to get your quote
    • Common Problems for Beginners
      • Beginning reporters often are afraid to ask probing questions that might anger the subject
        • You are there to get the story right above all else
      • They also get manipulated by the subjects who give a lot of sanitized, “canned” responses
        • Style but no substance
    • Dealing with Jerks
      • It will happen…often.
      • Don’t take it personally.
      • If they question your motives, then let reassure them that you intend to be fair and accurate in your reporting
      • Keep calm
      • Explain why the answer is necessary for the story
    • Uncomfortable Interviews
      • You may encounter an interview that is difficult to conduct due to the sensitivity of the subject
      • While personally uncomfortable, these often make for some of the best interviews
      • Example:
        • Interviewing someone who has just been laid off
        • Interviewing someone who has just had a death in the family
        • Interviewing someone who has been accused of a crime
        • Interviewing someone who is defensive or hostile
    • Uncomfortable Interviews
      • Remember that they are human, too
      • Behave appropriately
      • There is a fine line between being aggressive and obnoxious
    • The Rambling Interview
      • Some subjects ramble off subject
      • This may be unintentional, but sometimes it is a deliberate attempt to dodge a difficult question
      • Don’t be afraid to steer them back on track
    • Persistence Pays
      • When conducting an interview, make sure that your key questions are answered
      • If the subject does not know an answer, ask them who in the organization is available to respond
      • Many subjects will try to escape accountability through “double speak” and “passing the buck”
    • No Stone Left Unturned
      • When you write your story, you should have answers to the key questions
      • If you don’t, then you should include an explanation for the absence of clear information
        • Example: “A spokesperson declined to comment on…”
        • Example: “The cause of the fire was still undetermined, according to…”
        • Example: “The company isn’t disclosing the amount paid for the acquisition. However, the financial terms are expected to be revealed in tomorrow’s filing with the SEC.”
    • Expert Jargon
      • Sometimes you will interview industry experts that use jargon that is unfamiliar to the general public
      • Try to get the expert to rephrase the information in clearer terms
      • At a minimum, make sure that you fully understand the jargon so that you can paraphrase correctly
      • Don’t be afraid to admit your ignorance!
    • Be Provocative
      • Aim for a provocative interview without being confrontational
      • You are there to get the story – not start a fight!
    • Feature/Profile Story
      • Go beyond the main subject interview to get the “full story”
      • Talk to friends and family members to help get a diverse perspective on the subject interviewed
      • Your writing style will likely include observations and details that would not be appropriate in a “news” report/article
    • Investigative Reporting
      • Be prepared to spend a longer amount of time preparing this piece
      • You must strategize in how you ask your questions, as well as WHO to ask questions and WHEN to ask them
      • Example: At a certain point, your inquiries can result in actions that impede or prevent further investigation
    • Broadcast Interviews
      • When you conduct an interview for TV or radio, the goal is to get a sound bite that can be extracted and edited into a larger news piece
    • Types of Broadcast Interviews
      • News Interviews
        • Gather info on a news event
        • Usually quick and to-the-point
      • Feature Interviews
        • Designed to entertain
        • May be more in-depth
    • Interview Editing
      • While some interviews are done live, many are pre-recorded and edited
      • In the editing room, the actual interview may be chopped down considerably to include only significant soundbites
    • Sound Bite
        • Sometimes unintentional but often strategized
        • Memorable and catchy quote
        • Quick, focused
        • Captures the essence of your point
        • May be funny “one liner”
    • Infamous Sound Bites
      • “ I never had sex with that woman”
      • “ Can’t we all just get along?”
      • “ Read my lips: no new taxes!”
    • Pre-Interview
      • Not all announcers use the pre-interview
      • It can serve as a good rehearsal for both host and guest
      • Can help to focus topic of discussion
      • Danger of losing spontaneity
    • Altered States
      • There are some things that will alter the “mood” of the interview subject
      • Example:
        • The physical presence of a camera or tape recorder may cause the subject to “perform” or be more careful in considering what they reveal
    • Your Secret Weapon
      • Here is one of the best kept secrets for interviewing:
        • Some of the best information comes in the casual conversation that follows the “interview”
        • After the camera or tape has stopped and the pen is put away, the subject may begin to converse casually and reveal better information than given previously
    • Interview Skills
      • Don’t talk too much if the interview is for broadcast media
      • Keep the guest and topic on focus
      • Don’t ask overly complex questions
        • If necessary, then make sure that you explain complexities in easy to understand language
      • Listen!
        • Adjust questions when necessary
    • Interview Skills
      • Ask Follow-up Questions
      • Offer non-verbal feedback to responses
      • Ask for clarification, if necessary
    • Types of Questions
      • Closed ended questions
        • Answered with simple “yes” or “no”
        • Example: “Do you like your job?”
        • Generally makes a bad interview
      • Open ended questions
        • Provides opportunity for broad answers
        • Example: “What do you like about your job?”
    • Interview Tips
      • Avoid leading questions
        • “ You don’t like George Bush, do you?”
      • Avoid obvious questions
        • “ Were you unhappy when your movie flopped?”
      • If the interview is being broadcast, plan your transitions from topic to topic ahead of time
    • Keep Your Cool
      • Maintain control of the interview
      • Know when and how to interrupt to keep guest from rambling
      • Maintain a neutral/objective view
    • Build to the Point
      • Save your most volatile questions for the end of the interview
      • Begin with easier questions to establish a connection and trust with your guest
    • Prepare Your Questions
      • Troubleshoot your interview before it occurs
      • Plan questions ahead of time
      • You probably won’t use all of your questions, but the process is helpful in establishing a focus to your actual interview
    • Accuracy Check
      • Inevitably, you will encounter a need to clarify a quote or note that you have taken during the interview
      • It is not uncommon to “fact check” with the subject by following up directly with them after the conclusion of the interview
      • In some cases, a quote is read back to confirm that it is accurate …or to ask for clarification
    • Fact Checking
      • Be cautious when a subject presents a statistic as if it is fact
      • Be prepared to confirm all statistics with an independent source
      • Statistics are often manipulated
    • Using Quotes
      • Only use a quote if it conveys something that can’t be communicated better in your own words
      • Often a better strategy is paraphrasing what the subject has told you
    • Using Quotes
      • Use quote if it is particularly articulate or powerful in the wording
      • Most people do not speak in a way that translates well into a quote
    • Using Quotes
      • The more significant the interviewee is, the more likely a reader will be interested
      • Make sure that the quote is used to add a unique angle or credibility to the story
    • Quoting Accurately
      • If the grammar is poor, then some reporters will “clean up” the quote
      • This practice varies by publication
      • HOWEVER, if the interview was witnessed by multiple media outlets (example: press conference) then you should leave the quotes alone
    • (sic)
      • If you want to be cautious, then you can use the “(sic)” notation in your printed quote to notate a grammatical error made by your subject
    • Observation
      • Sometimes a key part of the story lies in what is observed, rather than spoken
      • Pay attention to the body language or non-verbal cues from your subject