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Importance of Good Listening

"Good journalists know how to listen. Listen to people even if they do not seem to have any useful information. They may still say something you can use later."
~chapter 40 of The News Manual

It's amazing how something so simple can be so important. Even though I have tended to rely too heavily on my voice recorder when interviewing people for this class, I do always try to listen to what the person has to say--easier said than done, sometimes, if there is a lot of noise and other distraction around. One thing I know that I need to work on, however, that is important with listening--especially with this type of reporting--is to really listen. Instead of just listening to the words that they say, I need to learn to listen close enough to see if there are follow up questions I need to ask or if there is maybe even a better story than the one I'm following or a better angle for the one I'm following. A lot of times, I seem to stay so focused on the fact that I need to interview the people--to ask them specific prepared questions, since I'm not always good at coming up with the questions on the spot--that I often don't know what to do when they finish speaking except awkwardly say, "Ok. Thank you. Um," and then move on to the next question. I guess what I really need to do is relax so I can fully listen to what they have to say and, if that still doesn't work, learn the importance of following up later if I come up with new questions after listening again.

Other Thoughts On Sample Investigative Reporting

Comments (1)

Dianna Griffin:

Sometimes I find that even when there is nothing to distract me, I still can't remember a word that the speaker has said. Typically, I am a good listener, but I tend to zone out a lot. I can never come up with a good question either, or I am just too afraid that they have already answered it and I'm the idiot that missed it.

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