Interviewing

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Interviewing for beginning journalists.

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Interviewing

  1. 1. Interviewing<br />Having conversations with sources<br />“Interviewing is one of those skills you only get better at. You will never again feel so ill at ease as when you try for the first time, and probably you will never feel entirely comfortable prodding another person for answers that he or she may be too shy or inarticulate to reveal.”<br /> – William Zinsser<br />
  2. 2. Its purpose?<br />Several types: quick phoner, walkaround, backgrounder, long and formal<br />Two common types you will be conducting:<br />News interview - to gather information to explain an event or situation <br />Personality interview – To learn about an individual (for a profile)<br />The secret to good stories is asking <br />the right questions.<br />
  3. 3. They require professional foreplayMeaning you have to do some work before the deed<br />Build trust<br />Visit a source before the interview<br />Establish a relationship if time allows<br />Be honest and empathetic<br />Don’t treat your source like a nameless bureaucrat<br />Address any concerns promptly and honestly<br />Tell the source how long the interview should take<br />
  4. 4. Do your homework<br />Google your source<br />Read past stories about your topic<br />Become familiar with as much background as possible<br />Write out potential questions<br />Think through your story<br />Dress appropriately<br />Arrive on time<br />
  5. 5. Should I conduct the interview:<br />in person<br />by phone<br />or by e-mail?<br />
  6. 6. In person interview<br />Best way to build rapport and encourage sources to cooperate<br />Physical surroundings and the interviewee’s gestures and body language often provide useful information<br />People take you more seriously when you’re there with them<br />However, in-person interviews take longer and can be uncomfortable.<br />
  7. 7. Phoner<br />Fast, efficient way to get answers<br />Not as intimidating for the interviewee if she can’t see you taking notes<br />May not require advance notice<br />However, it’s impersonal and you’re much more likely to mishear or misquote someone.<br />
  8. 8. Via e-mail<br />Gives interviewee time to think and construct answer<br />Offers the most flexibility<br />Written questions and answers provide a record and make it hard to misquote<br />However, they’re impersonal, lag time makes it hard to ask follow-up questions and they can take longer.<br />
  9. 9. The questions<br />Ask open-ended questions to encourage conversation<br />Do not ask leading questions<br />Keep questions relatively short<br />Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification<br />Focus on one issue at a time<br />Ask direct questions<br />Don’t forget to shut up<br />
  10. 10. Open-ended questions<br />Do not require a specific answer<br />Example: What do you think of the city’s general financial situation?<br />Versus close-ended questions that call for a brief, pointed reply.<br />Example: Is the city hurting financially?<br />(Close-ended questions can be OK, often as follow-up questions.)<br />
  11. 11. Leading questions<br />Influence the source to respond in a certain way. Not objective.<br />Example: How angry were you when you found out a stranger used your credit card?<br />A non-leading way to ask this question:<br />How did you feel when you found out a stranger used your credit card?<br />
  12. 12. The interview<br />Introduce yourself immediately as a journalist<br />Build to the point – start with small talk, then easy questions, and tough questions last<br />Listen carefully and ask follow-up questions<br />Avoid lecturing the source, arguing or debating<br />Make sure you understand what the source is saying. If you don’t, ask for clarification.<br />
  13. 13. Don’t forget to:<br />Get the basics: name, age, where he lives<br />Verify the spelling of EVERY name<br />Observe – for descriptive story details<br />Try to relax<br />Ask if you can contact him again with further questions<br />Ask if he recommends anyone else to speak with<br />Say thank you<br />Email a thank-you letter after the interview<br />
  14. 14. Note taking<br />Bring your reporter’s notebook and two pens<br />Carefully spell out important facts (name, age, phone number, other numbers)<br />For everything else, use shorthand<br />Skip small words like “a” or “the”<br />Use symbols and abbreviations<br />Mark important facts or good quotes<br />Make sure you put quotes around actual quotes<br />Ask people to slow down or repeat<br />Clean up notes immediately after interview<br />
  15. 15. Ready to practice?<br />This PowerPoint presentation can be reproduced as long as credit is given to Karen McIntyre.<br />

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