Interview process Story idea Plan & Prepare Look & Listen Review & Reorder
Step 1: Plan & Prepare Background research Draft questions Questions you think your reader would want to know the answer to Open-ended questions, not yes/no questions Questions about hobbies, family, soft topics
Step 2: Look & Listen Each answer will suggest additional questions Listen not just to what your interviewee says, but how he/she says it Contradictions, hesitation, silence, nervousness, roving eyes all suggest need for follow-up Look around you! And note it down. Take good notes, but stay focused on interviewee
Step 3: Review & Reorder Review your notes to ensure you have complete quotes Reorder and prioritize the quotes Review the audio tape, if available Use “time stamps” in your notes
Interview strategy Most people love to talk about themselves, or things they care about (hobbies, politics, their children) Use these topics to open up interviews Many people mistrust or are afraid of reporters Be polite, respectful & professional – show them you’re a decent human being!
Ask open-ended Qs How did you feel when...? Why did you decide to...? What was it like to...? X Were you happy when...? X Do you think you made the right choice? X When did you stop beating your wife?
Interview strategy – 2 Keep interviews conversational - it’s an interview, not an interrogation You have to gain someone’s trust before you can gain their information Ask your question and then wait patiently Silence can be a good way to get people to talk! Always ask: “Can you give me an example of that?” Always ask: “Is there someone else I should speak to?
Mencher’s 12 Interview Ground Rules Identify yourself at the beginning State the purpose of the interview Make sure the source knows how the information will be used Tell the source how long the interview will take Keep it as short as possible Ask specific questions that the source is competent to answer SOURCE: MELVIN MENCHER’S NEWS REPORTING & WRITING, 7TH EDITION
Mencher’s 12 Interview Ground Rules Give the source time to reply Ask the source to clarify complex or vague answers Read back answers if requested or when in doubt of the phrasing Insist on answers if the public has a right to know them Avoid lecturing and arguing Abide by non-attribution requests
Quoting Use quotes that are full sentences and complete thoughts Partial quotes can be open to misinterpretation and misunderstanding Your sources are the experts, so let their words do the talking Every quote must be attributed to a specific person
Using quotes in stories If a word or phrase is in quotation marks, it must be something someone said exactly as they said it Quotes can be split if they consist of more than one sentence “It was a Monday,” he said. “I remember it well.” Start a new paragraph for a new quote
Brackets & Ellipses Use brackets to mark [paraphrases] inside quotes Use an ellipsis to show where you have... cut words from inside a quote Use both sparingly CEO of the Recording Academy Neil Portnow addressed the issue of stars being left out backstage at the awards show Sunday, saying that the "In Memoriam segment is a conundrum.” "It's sad, we keep a list," Portnow went on. "This year over 200 people [have passed] so we have to make a selection at the end. "After Japan are the fragile European countries that are in very dire straits: Greece, Ireland and Portugal... Spain and Italy, too, but their problems are of a different order," Ghezzi said.
Set up your quotes Some quotes, or the perspective of speakers, need to be explained to the reader in advance Think about what information your reader will need in order to understand the quote Who or what does it refer to? Definition of any new or unusual words? Context?