Asking Questionsthat Begin Conversations Lizabeth A. Walsh, MJE
Standard QuestionsOur BASIC question set: Who What When Where Why HowHas more than one question per starter.Brainstorm multiple questions for each one.
Who? Who planned it? Who attended? Who participated? Who watched? Who didn’t attend? Who else can I talk to?
What? What was the event? What did people do to plan it? What was the result? What happened while it went on? What is the history of this event?
When? When was the event? When did people plan it? When did people hear about it? When did things start rolling? When did it end?
Where? Where was the event? Where did people plan it? Where else did things happen?
Why? Why did people hold the event? Why did people like it? Why did people not like it? Why was it important to tell this story?
How? How do I spell your full name? How did the event get planned? How did people get involved? How did people feel about it? How did everything come together? How was the turnout? How much money did it cost/was made?
Beyond the StandardToo often, we focus on “expected” questions. Who What When Where Why How and while we gather this information, we forget all about finding the STORY these answers won’t tell usSO WHAT? WHO CARES? WHAT’S THIS FOR?
Inspiration: Interviewing stuff Pull out any random personal item. Set it on the desk. Create a conversation with it- ask it questions about you. Have it answer you. Write down its answers. Share your Q&A with your small group.
EXPANSION OPPORTUNITY… Pick more items to get a more balanced picture. Create a spread, story, quick read, info box about you from the viewpoint of your personal item. Brainstorm how to put together all the materials from your group’s interviews in a single spread- What gets the dominant? What gets into the story? What makes it into a sidebar? Think about 3 different kinds of alt copy treatments. What might get cut because it’s less interesting to readers?
We want Facts, Figures, Feelings Facts- the details answered by the 5 Ws and H Figures-statistics, percentages, numbers (also come from 5 Ws and H) Feelings- come from people telling stories and sharing their perspectives
Facts & Figures Come from research and from initial questions that allow subject to warm up to you and start opening up Come from a variety of sources to make sure they are accurate Are reserved for transitions and sentences the reporter will write or for alternative coverage modules
Feelings Come from letting people tell you their stories. You get these by using a gentle command: TELL ME about… SHARE WITH ME what it was like when… Instead of sticking to the prepared script, listen for cues that can lead you into a great story, and follow them.
Note taking & recording Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy Askif it’s okay to record to be as accurate as possible- but don’t rely on it Considerbringing a secondary writer, so you can converse instead of take notes Verify all quoted material before you leave Ask for a follow up check
Now that we’ve got all this stuff, what do we do with it?•Color coordinate info. •Facts are yellow •Figures are blue •Feelings are pink•Start sorting what you want to use where. •Headline ideas •Subheadline summaries •Story transitions •Feelings for depth and personality •Sidebar material
Revisit the stuff interviews Triangles for facts Squares for figures Circles for feelings Now determine what might be placed where on a spread… it’s all about thinking carefully when crafting the interview- if you’d thought about FFF, what would you have done differently?
Practice…•Take a few of the stories from last year.•Write a list of questions the reporter asked.•Now write what he/she didn’t ask, but shouldhave asked.•K-W-L sheets are a good way to build betterquestion sets and evaluate the effectiveness ofyoung reporters. •Now, I’m serious… practice. •Interview someone in here for a story on camp.
Videos we watchedhttp://flinthillswriter.blogspot.com/2011/08/bad-robot-interview.html http://www.cbsnews.com/2100- 18563_162-6885521.html
All materials presented… Remain the property and copyright of the various owners of the original works. These yearbook samples were presented at BALFOUR workshops for the benefit of their clients and customers. Please do not alter these presentations. Use of these shows is intended only for individual adviser-to-staff classroom teaching, not for publication or reproduction in any form for any type of presentation at a conference, camp, convention, or gathering of multiple schools’ staffs.