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Journalism: How to get sources talking

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Tips and techniques for finding sources and getting them to talk from professional journalists. Though designed for the National High School Journalism Convention, the advice is applicable to anyone who has to do interviews, especially people new to reporting, brand journalism and content marketing.

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Journalism: How to get sources talking

  1. 1. Strategies for Getting Sources to Talk © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com with Margot Carmichael Lester
  2. 2. © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com Presentation Materials http://bit.ly/HSJC-SMI
  3. 3. © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com Why is interviewing hard?
  4. 4. Why Interviewing Is Hard © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com •People don’t like to talk •We aren’t sure what to ask and they’re not sure what to say •We’re both nervous about upsetting someone •Neither of us wants to look / sound stupid •We don’t want to bother them
  5. 5. Let’s talk about… © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com •Finding sources •Getting them to talk •Asking better questions
  6. 6. © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com How to Find Sources
  7. 7. Photo by mindgutter - Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License https://www.flickr.com/photos/41894176980@N01 Created with Haiku Deck Stakeholders & Weak Ties © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com
  8. 8. Photo by Marc Wathieu - Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License https://www.flickr.com/photos/88133570@N00 Created with Haiku Deck Influencers© 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com
  9. 9. Photo by Thomas Hawk - Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License https://www.flickr.com/photos/51035555243@N01 Created with Haiku Deck Perspectives © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com
  10. 10. Third Places© 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com
  11. 11. © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com Learn more about finding sources in this deck http://bit.ly/ FindSources
  12. 12. © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com Why don’t sources like to talk? © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com
  13. 13. Why Sources Don’t Talk © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com •They don’t know or trust us •They don’t want to be “on the record” or get in trouble •They don’t think they know enough to be helpful •They’re shy or nervous
  14. 14. © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com •They don’t want to weigh in on a controversial topic •They’re upset, scared, etc. •They don’t take us seriously (this is usually adults) Why Sources Don’t Talk
  15. 15. © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com How to Get Sources Talking
  16. 16. To get sourcing talking… © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com •Establish empathy •Give them a reason to •Do your research •Show you care •Ask better questions
  17. 17. I often approach sources by emphasizing our shared humanity, our empathy and/or my understanding that they may be un- comfortable with this topic or hesitant to talk to me. I also address the elephant in the room, if there is one. ‘I know you don’t want to talk about this, but here’s why I think it’s important that you do.’ AK Clemmons ESPN © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved.
  18. 18. Taylor Sisk Kaiser Health News Be flexible and adaptable depending on the personality, mood, and/or receptiveness of the person. This could mean drilling a little harder, taking a softer approach, going into more depth. Maintain eye contact, nod, show surprise or particular interest, and otherwise engage. If the person believes that you’re truly interested, they’re more likely to keep talking.”© 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved.
  19. 19. The best interviewers, the best people who do this for a living, are people who are at the end of it, curious. They’re leaning in. They’re listening carefully. They’re picking up on things that we haven’t heard before. If you’re bored…people at home are going to be bored, too. Gwen Ifill Washington Week
  20. 20. How to Ask Good Questions© 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com
  21. 21. Frank Graff WUNC-TV Every complete story answers the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How questions. I use quotes to back up the information, add context and emotion.   If somebody really doesn't want to talk, point out that you want to cover both sides and it won't look good if the person's side isn't seen on camera or quoted. © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved.
  22. 22. Sources appreciate when the interviewer is paying attention to what the interviewee says. They are taking time out of their day to help you, so the least you can do is know enough to not ask a dumb question! And always have follow- up questions. Gustavo Arrellano Columnist & Commentator© 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved.
  23. 23. My advice for others covering traumatic events is - if possible - go slow. Interview people in a comfortable space. Check in with them throughout the interview to see how they’re doing. Believe what they say. Believe what they’re feeling. Have water and tissues nearby. Take breaks. And remember to breathe. Samantha Broun transom.org© 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved.
  24. 24. The Sawatsky © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com • Avoid "yes" or "no" questions except to confirm an exact piece of information. • Inquire about "how", "why"and “what". • Keep questions short and focused on a single subject. • Ask “how do you know?”, but not in a snarkly way. • Request examples and descriptions to help your source remember and articulate responses.
  25. 25. The Sawatsky © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com • Get comments on things you know are true. • Keep your opinions away from your questions. • Don’t argue with or try to convince sources of your side. • Avoid hyperbole and charged words. • Talk about sensitive subjects without sounding combative.
  26. 26. • How do you know that? • Why do you think that? • What’s the one most important thing we should know and why? • Why should the audience care about this as much as you do? © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com A Few Good Questions
  27. 27. • What’s the biggest misconception people have, why is that a problem, and what’s the truth? • What haven’t we talked about that you think we should? • What else should we know about this and why? © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com A Few Good Questions
  28. 28. • How would you briefly describe the issue/problem/solution? • Why is/isn’t now the time to address this? • How is this different from what’s been tried before? • What are the broader implications? • What do you say to people who disagree with you on this? Why? © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com A Few More Good Questions
  29. 29. • How does this effect you personally? • Why is this good/bad? • What was your first thought when you heard about this? • What do you think should be done instead, and why? © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com A Few More Good Questions
  30. 30. Questions? © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com
  31. 31. with Margot Carmichael Lester Twitter: @word_factory Blog: thewordfactory.com/our-blog Instagram: @beabetterwriter Thanks for attending Strategies for Getting Sources to Talk © 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com
  32. 32. © 2017 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com© 2018 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information contact Margot Lester at margot@thewordfactory.com Presentation Materials http://bit.ly/HSJC-SMI

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