The Experienced Always Win or Not?


"As a best practice, the news staff should consider whether it is fair to behave differently when questioning ordinary citizens unaccustomed to being interviewed than with people experienced and knowledgeable about the press" (Haiman 32).

Sounds true, huh?

I always think about how ordinary people feel when being asked a question from a news reporter. The news personnel seem to try and invade other people's privacy and even when they say no with a thank you. Is this because they have to for their jobs?

If someone is interviewing a political figure, who is well known, then usually they will act much nicer than if it is an ordinary person.

Haiman added "But let’s not treat somebody’s old Uncle Harry or Aunt Millie the same way we treat the pols and the pros" (32).

It is very interesting how reporters have different attitudes in different situations, but it kind of makes sense. If you are in the presence of an important political figure, then you will act accordingly - probably very conservative. What if you have to interview someone at their house and they are just a typical citizen, then you will probably act much more relaxed and open.

Why can't news reporters treat ordinary people the same way they would treat political figures or important representatives? Is there a stereotype or tradition that says this? I was amazed at how news reporters treat non-important or traditional, everday citizens.

So, should news reporters act according to the situation?

Click here for the course web page devoted to Haiman.


Yes, reporters always need to consider the individual circumstances and situation. And it would not be fair for them to treat people who were used to dealing with the news media and common people the same way. The politicians, celebrities, etc. know how to say just enough without saying anything, they have practice making it seem like they are answering a question without actually doing so, and they are very cognizant of the results that a slip of the tongue could have on the rest of their lives. A common person is not used to this. They won’t realize the potential results of what they say. Therefore, it’s important that reporters make it clear to a common person the seriousness of the interview. A journalist wants to make the interviewee feel relaxed and comfortable, but at the same time he or she needs to retain certain distinctions in the relationship, so interviewees realize anything they say “can and may be used against them,” whether the “against” is intentional or not. And just as regular citizens need to be treated with care as compared to public figures, it’s even more important to take care with children.

Derek, good entry; this is a question I'm sure many people had after reading the chapter. We're so used to at least stating that we treat everyone equally, that to read a chapter where the author says something different is a little disconerting. However, I think Greta's response pretty much sums up my feelings about this topic: "[high profile people] know how to say just enough without saying anything." Ordinary citizens don't know how to do that. It's unfair if a reporter sets out hoping for a regular citizen to say too much or say the wrong thing. I think it's especially disgraceful when a reporter interviews someone who has just witnessed a tragedy, and the interviewee is practically incoherent, saying things that person probably will not want on television. Why air this? It seems we can't even say it's good tv, because this chapter shows that many viewers have a real problem with the practice.

Derek I think that you point out some good points, and relate them to good assumptions that you have. I relate with you because in previous expericence I have ran into situations where I believe that reporters should react to the situation accordingly but It is hard to say sometimes. Attitudes I think play a big part in reporting because I for sure wouldn't want to talk to some stuck up person that is just trying to get into my life for the benefit of there job. I'd ignore. That's jsut me but in the end you have to relatre what would you do in ther shoes, I think I would have a hard time being a reporter, your questions really made me think what I would do if I were in there shoes perhaps.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on November 1, 2009 4:45 PM.

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