Interviewing is similar for single-media and backpack journalists, but it’s also different. I’ll talk about some of the needs.
Interviewing is the first part of the journalist process, at least the active part. And it’s probably the most important since it’s where you get the raw material – the details – for that print or video story. The other parts are also important. Editing lets you give your story focus, and the better focused the story, the better it is. Cropping and cutting shapes the final storyform, giving it life and structure.But you can’t edit what you don’t have. Nor can you create something for your video that wasn’t there originally. Remember that blog story I showed you yesterday of Ashley’s Excellent Adventure? There were other parts of that story – Ashley saw birds, and she saw another kind of monkey, but I didn’t have photos of them so they weren’t part of the story because, for the purpose of a photo story, if you don’t have pictures, it doesn’t exist.
There are no bad questions, except for the question you didn’t ask.You don’t know going in exactly what the focus for your story will be. Remember we’re doing stories, not issues. Say you want to do a story about what it’s like being a teacher at St. Xavier and you talk Father Vinayak into letting you interview him. He’s a fascinating man with many stories in his past. What was his life like as a child? Why did he decide to join the Jesuit order? What does he do for relaxation? What books does he read? What does he hope to be doing five years from now? Those are all good stories, but maybe not good questions because your story is going to be about what it’s like being a teacher at St. Xavier. Of those questions I listed, only the one about why he became a Jesuit is actually about his life as a teacher. But the others offer perspectives on his life. If you have time, you might ask the others, but not until you’ve answered the questions about what it’s like being a teacher at St. Xavier.
These are pretty straightforward.
Does the person you are interviewing have anything to hide?What I mean with knowing the answers before you ask means that you may have talked with others about the subject of this interview, and they may have told you something so your interview is to get something on the record.Starting with people on the fringes means that you interview the lesser people in an invetigation before you question the key people. That way you have most of the information you need before you start questioning key sources.
Be polite. Remember you are asking a favor, the subject doesn’t have to talk with you, and it’ll be using time and effort on their part.
Don’t guess on spelling or title. Do you know your teachers’ title? They all have one, and they all change.
InterviewingA guide for backpackand other journalists 1
He who asksis a fool for 5minutes. Hewho doesn’task is a foolforever. 2
Interviewing is part of a three-step process• Interviewing – Gets raw material for stories• Editing/Honing – Strengthens material• Cropping/Cutting – Shapes final stories 3
Like all backpackjournalism, interviewingis the same as in regularjournalism -- butdifferent. 4
Focus the interview• Ask lots of questions – You need lots of raw material• Choose an angle – Pick a focus for your project• Explore a subject further – That’s why you need lots of raw material 5
Interviewing• Key to success for a good backpack or print journalist.• Two main parts – Asking good questions – LISTENING!!!! 6
Interviewing• Steps in the process (before interview) – Identifying the story topic and angle – Identifying the source(s) – Background research • Don’t interview people for facts, interview for reactions 7
Interviewing• Steps in the process (before interview) – Identifying the story topic and angle – Identifying the source(s) – Background research • Don’t interview people for facts, interview for reactions – especially on camera 8
Information Search• Questions for before the interview. – How much time do I have to track down information? – What do I need to know? – How will I use this information? – Who is the audience for this information?These are the questions your teamneeds to answer soon 9
Interviewing• Story types and interviewing – News story • Subject focused • People are secondary – Profile • People focused • Other topics are secondary – Investigative story • Need to know both 10
Interviewing• News stories – Time to research is usually short – Clips, other writers are good background sources – Rapport with regular sources for your beat will serve you well • They know you so they’ll talk with you 11
Interviewing• Profiles -- vital to character-driven backpack journalists – Background information • Basics: age, education, etc. • Know their works, their achievements • Know their subjects • Know their hobbies, if possible • Dress to match • Interview friends, family, etc. • “Shadow” them, if possible 12
Interviewing• Investigative stories – Adversarial relationship? – Know the answers to the questions you ask – Start with people on the fringes and work your way in to the main source – Get as much evidence as possible ahead of time 13
InterviewingThe way you ask a question • Signals the response you expect • Can reveal your own point of view on the issue • May block a response –“Are you still cheating on exams.”Ask people questions they cananswer 14
Interviewing• Use open-ended questions – Questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer – You want questions that draw visual responses (especially important for video) – Work from general to specific • These questions are less direct and less threatening 15
Interviewing• Closed-ended questions – Asking a specific question to get a specific answer – Plan when to ask these questions and who you are going to ask – Keep asking until your source gives you an adequate response or tells you where to find the information 16
Interviewing• Rapport – The relationship between the reporter and the source • Critical to the success of the interview – Look for commonalities with your subject • Make them feel comfortable with you 17
Interviewing nuts and bolts• Establishing a rapport – Look around the interview space for • Photos of family • Pets • Signs of their religious background – Talk about something you see • Gets subjects at ease Also comes in handy when filming “B roll” 18
Interviewing nuts and bolts• Setting up the interview – Work with the subject, but suggest a time – Estimate how long you will need • Be prepared if it goes longer – Set the place • Interviewee’s space? (puts them at ease) • Neutral territory – Be cautious of noise -- especially important in filming – Privacy issues? – Possible return for more information – Call/e-mail back to check accuracy 19
Interviewing nuts and bolts• What to bring – What about a recorder for print? Camera? • Backpack journalists rely on equipment • Don’t count on it working. Have a plan if it fails – Notebook choices for notes – Writing instruments (at least 2 pencils) 20
Interviewing nuts and bolts• What to bring – What about a recorder for print? Camera? • Backpack journalists rely on equipment • Don’t count on it working. Have a plan if it fails – Notebook choices for notes – Writing instruments (at least 2 pencils)• What not to bring – Cell phone (Turn it off; it’s distracting) – Chewing Gum (it looks unprofessional) 21
Interviewing nuts and bolts• List of questions – Write out the main questions you want to ask – DO NOT write them on your notebook with space after each one for answer – Maybe just a list of main points Write answers even if taping or filming 22
Interviewing nuts and bolts• Start with the easy questions – Good time to confirm spelling of name (don’t ask this if there is a sign or nameplate) – Title • These can change from published material you found in research – Other basic info if you have questions 23
Interviewing nuts and bolts• Ask the general questions first• LISTEN to their answers – They will frequently answer more than one of your questions at a time.• If their answers lead you to a better story, just keep filming or writing and follow the new thread 24
Interviewing nuts and bolts• Empathy is important -- Why are you talking with this person• Silence is helpful• Non-verbal cues• Body language• Look them in the eye 25
Interviewing and accuracy• No one wants to be misquoted• Here’s where taping interviews helps• No good reporter wants to misquote a source• Arrange for a possible call back to check accuracy of quotes, fill in any blanks – Call back even if you really don’t need to – Send an email or note thanking source for their time 26
Interviewing• At the interview’s conclusion, ask: – Is there anything that I haven’t asked that I should have? – Anything else you’d like to add? – Give them your contact information (telephone or email)• Review your notes (flip through)• Put the pen away. Open your ears• Tell them when the story may appear or where they’ll find it on the Internet 27
Backpack Journalist Interviewing• It’s different because of the multimedia needs• Use small talk to put people at ease, then set up a camera with the subject miked• Film the entire interview taking note of vital answers• Then pick up the camera and change perspective while you ask questions again. 28
Backpack Journalist Interviewing• Then shoot other scenes in the room (details), or the reason for the interview. You want detail shots when you already have enough for a story.• In the editing process, you can move visuals around or add others. 29
Your assignment now• Pair off, interview each other.• Write a one-page profile of your team member.• List the B-roll footage you’ll shoot (the details), and what questions you want to ask for reaction shots. You’re not going to do the filming, but I want to know what you would shoot and ask. 30