Presentation on theme: "Interviewing. Conducting a successful interview is one of the most important skills a reporter possesses Make questions simple. The simpler, the better."— Presentation transcript:
Conducting a successful interview is one of the most important skills a reporter possesses Make questions simple. The simpler, the better Interviews must be planned and arranged. Be prepared Know before the interview the questions to which you need answers
How to interview Interviews should be face-to-face when possible. Telephone interviews are acceptable, especially on deadline. Emailing a source is a last, but sometimes necessary, resort.
Types of questions Ask two kinds of questions: open-ended and close ended Open ended questions elicit comments, quotes and opinions. They are the what, why and how questions. Or perhaps a simple statement. “Tell me about…” Close-ended questions seek specific information. Who did this? Where did it happen? When? Did you…? The answers are short and factual
Interviewing tips Start with broad questions to loosen up the source Sources get defensive about manipulative questions Dull questions usually get colorful answers Always ask: “How do you spell your name?" "Is all the information on your business card (LinkedIn profile) correct?"
More tips Don't create enemies. Make it clear to your sources that you are giving them a chance to share their side Be sympathetic, not combative “Hello, Mr. Smith. This is Joe Brown, reporter for the Doane Owl. I’m on deadline with a story that you deserve to have a voice in.” Or: “I owe it to you to give you a chance to comment for this story.” Ask the toughest questions last
During the interview Get details and facts about the environment and the source – his/her appearance, demeanor, actions and reactions When quoting someone, use “said.” Save “stated” and “according to” for documents People cannot laugh and speak at the same time so don’t say someone “laughed” a quote
Listening tips Focus on what the source is saying, not on your next question Work to avoid writing your questions Base your next question on what the source says. Converse Politely guide your source back to the topic if the source rambles Think on your feet. Listen for facts, quotes and substantiation
More listening tips It’s OK to share your personal experiences if they coincide with what the source is saying Make eye contact If you don’t understand the source’s point, politely ask for explanation or example Listen for what isn’t being said; then ask about it Observe
Note-taking tips A good story starts with good notes Good writing cannot compensate for a lack of info Spell names and titles correctly. Verify information. Put the date on notes Make notes specific More information is better than not enough Bring extra pens or pencils
More on note-taking Concentrate. Write fast. Block out everything while you write the quote Use key words to remind you of facts Develop a shorthand Slow the interview by not asking another question until you finish writing Ask the source to repeat information you missed
Still more on note-taking Praise the source, especially if source seems nervous Use asterisks for key points or quotes Be open-minded. The story idea might change during the interview Practice taking notes while standing up Save your notes for a few weeks – then trash them Don’t transcribe your notes
Use an audio recorder? The case against: Batteries fail Intimidates source Inhibits rapport Tapes break Machines fail Prevents you from taking good notes Recorders can’t observe Must transcribe tapes when return to office
When to use an audio recorder If you write for the Internet, you’ll have to have one to get a sound byte for the web site Don’t shove it under the source’s nose Introduce yourself. Chat with the source briefly. Make the source feel at ease Ask for permission to use the recorder Don’t record a telephone conversation without source’s approval Don’t record a conversation when you are not a part of the conversation. It’s illegal
On and off the record On the record means the information can be used and the source giving you the information can be quoted or the information can be attributed to the source Attributing information to a source means the reader knows where the information came from Once you identify yourself as a reporter, assume that everything is on the record and fair game.
More on and off the record Not for attribution = the information can be used, but without attributing it to the source. Using anonymous sources. Dangerous. Be careful Off the record = nothing the source says can be used in a story. Politicians and people who know how the media work use it to manipulate
Rules of on and off record You are in charge You decide whether to allow off-the-record comments (though you must get permission from the editor in chief) Make sure the source knows the rules It’s not off the record unless you agree You may use info, and name the source, if the source tells you something, then after the fact says that it is off the record