Interview Techniques

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"It's odd that so much emphasis is put on teaching journalists how to write an article when that skill is useless without also teaching journalists how to develop strong interview techniques." - Sarah Stuteville

I knew when enrolling in EL227, I would have to interview people.  And, in honesty, the vision of me awkward and stammering questions at an interviewee was enough to make me quit the idea and never look back.  Eventually, though, I would have to tackle this course to fulfill my major.

I've never been an eloquent speaker - this is why I enjoy writing.  Pair poor verbal etiquette with a stubborn shyness and the result is a terrified journalism student.  Ok, maybe terrified is exaggerating just a bit.  Anyway, I didn't look forward to embarrassing myself in front of other students, let alone intimidating faculty or influential figures (like those attending the Holocaust Conference).

My first interviewing experience went better than anticipated.  I came across as only mildly nervous, hopefully.  I'm sure my inexperience was obvious, but the persons were polite and patient. 

Important in journalism is that the journalist voice is mostly silent.  An article depends on the sources to carry the message.  The talent of a reporter is not creative writing it's collecting, organizing and complimenting the views of others.  This became very clear to me during the Localized story, because I had a hard time getting sources.  Where there is a shortage of quotes and opinions, the inclination to insert your own thoughts is more likely to fill the gaps.  That's bad journalism.

Good interviewing skills are necessary to creating good news.  So, HOW do I get a better handle on it?  Practice will play a big part I'm sure, but what else is there to do?

Self-educate. I did an online search for "Interviewing Techniques" and found some helpful tips, which I'll share:

MOST helpful sites for interviewing strategies, in my opinion:

13 Simple Journalist Techniques for Effective Interviews (this doesn't want to link-up, so) http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2007/03/26/13-simple-journalist-techniques-for-effective-interviews/

The Art (and Science) of Interviewing

New York Times on the Web: Learning Network

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