Interviewing 101

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Planning the interview and how to write a basic news story

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Interviewing 101

  1. 1. INTERVIEWING 1015WS AND 1 H – THE BACKBONETHEN, THERE’S LISTENING.YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO PAY ATTENTION WHILEMAINTAINING GOOD EYE CONTACT, TAKING NOTES ANDRECORDING THE INTERVIEW ON A TAPE RECORDER.* M O R EON THAT LATERGOOD LISTENING: ― THE REAL PURPOSE OF REPORTING, OFJOURNALISM IS TO ILLUMINATE WHAT IS REAL, YOUKNOW, REAL EXISTENTIAL TRUTH. WHAT’S GOING ONAROUND US? THAT’S NOT SENSATIONALISM, THAT’S NOTMANUFACTURED CONTROVERSY, THAT’S NOT —IT’S ABOUTCONTEXT AND LISTENING .‖ C A R L B E R S T E I N O F W A T E R G A T E 1
  2. 2. EQUIPMENT Reporter’s notebook, a few pens and pencils, recorder, roster of questions written out in advance. First: Research the person and/or topic. Sources include resumes, library articles and published literature. - Questions: Based on 5W and 1H, then past, present and future - Organize questions into relevant categories: personal questions, professional, past accomplishments, current activities and future goals - Begin with general questions and follow up with specifics - Save controversial questions for last - IMPORTANT: Test each question for a Yes or No answer and upon confirmation, reword the question in an open ended answer - Keep questions to one idea per question and wording to a minimum. This is not the time to be making speeches. 2http://bigthink.com/ideas/21732
  3. 3. RECORDERSUse the odometer on your recorder and write time next toeach question- Batteries- Do not ask for permission; persuade for accuracy- Two party consent state: in Florida, you must inform if you are using a recorder 3
  4. 4. INTERVIEW PLANResearch- Make appointment: a neutral place so you’re on a level playing field.Sometimes it helps if you’re comfortable, too.- Establish how you are to address subject and vice versa: Ms. Sheppard or Jenn? Hopefully on a first name basis.- Chat first to break the ice: how’s the weather? Thank them for taking the time to speak with you.- Then, tell them your plan. It will put them at ease.- Dress appropriately: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.- Use methods if there is no time to research or you run out of questions: - GOALS- goals, obstacles, achievements, logistics, start over - GOSS- goals, obstacles, solutions, start over - Basically, everything has goals, find them and then identify obstacles in the way of those goals. After that, find out solutions to obstacles of various goals; start over. Focus on generals to specific. (You can go on endlessly.) It also works well with the past, present, future. - *Questions of logistics: what happened to get to this point? Is there a chronology of events that would help the reader understand? Use this to sprinkle in the details in your story- End – thank interviewee and leave, but not without getting email or phone number for follow up or clarification. Leave now because, if you linger, they might have second thoughts or tell you to trash the interview. 4
  5. 5. THE INTERVIEWShould be face-to-face- If you must use the telephone, which you should never settle for less and the person can just hang up on you, use it effectively: - Fully identify yourself and the point of the story - Keep the chit-chat to a minimum; questions to the point - Ask for clarification immediately if anything is unclear - Press for specifics and details - Verify spelling! John or Jon or Jawn or Jahn - Time may be a factor so chose questions wisely - Save controversial questions for end! 5
  6. 6. INVERTED PYRAMIDSummarylede in whichthe mostimportantthings aresummarizedFIRSTThen, theremainder iswritten withless and lessdetails 6
  7. 7. HARD NEWS STORYBasics: Headline1. Lede: beginning, catchy, compelling; one or two sentences: hard and soft ledes2. Backup, if needed – to help the lede make sense3. Nut graph – breaks down the story’s main point. You must have a nut, and it’s usually high in the story4. Lead quote – strongest quote you have! Should also support lede without echoing it word-for-word5. Impact or reaction – explain the background, explain how or why, show how this story affects or impacts the reader6. End: sometimes, there isn’t one. Quit writing when you run out of information. Sometimes, there is no conclusion, no “a good time was had by all” like in fiction. When all else fails, use your second best quote – the kicker quote – to end your story. 7

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