Conducting an Interview
"Journalists planning an interview need to be prepared. Try to keep it to three to five questions, because if you haven't worked out in this number what you want the person to say you never will.
Try to avoid looking at your notes during the interview and always listen to what the other person is saying.
Here are a few tips for planning and executing an interview.
Interview tips for journalists:
1: Never give an interviewee questions in advance. It’s OK to give a general idea about the interview themes, but being too specific may limit what you can ask in the interview. It also risks being overtaken by events and allows the interviewee to rehearse answers.
2: Be on time. There’s nothing worse than keeping someone.
3: Always check that your equipment is working and that you have enough batteries, tapes, discs etc before you leave the office.
4: Treat the interviewee with respect. A warm but not over-enthusiastic greeting is a good start. The interviewee deserves respect whether they are a president or a man or woman in the street.
5: Take control of the location. It’s your interview. You need to choose a place that isn't too noisy and where there are not too many distractions.
6: You are not the center of attention. You are there to get the perspective of the interviewee, not give your own.
7: Do the research you need to, but don’t try to cram it all into your questions. Put yourself in the shoes of a member of your audience before you start the interview. If they were here, what would they ask?
8: Ask the most important question first. The more pressed the interviewee is, the less time they will have and the more likely that they will cut the interview short.
9: The interview is a conversation. It is not a confrontation. You are not there to make the interviewee look stupid.
10: Try to avoid looking at notes. If you look at your notes, the interviewee may be distracted. And it’s difficult for you to read and listen at the same time.
11: Maintain eye contact at all times. Keep your body language in check. If you nod your head, your subject may take this to mean that you agree with them and so there is no need to explain further. You may miss the chance to discover more. If you shake your head, or recoil with a shocked facial expression, you risk making your subject clam up. You will have shown them that you find their views offensive and so they are likely to stop short of saying even more in the same vein.
12: Try to ask a maximum of three or four questions. An interview is not a fishing expedition. If you can’t get to the essence of what you want the interviewee to say in three or four questions, change the questions.
13: There are only six basic questions. Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?
14: Shorter questions are better than longer ones. Never ask more than one question at a time, combining questions makes it easy for the interviewee to avoid answering one altogether but without seeming to. Be as direct as you can without being rude.
15: Be sure of your facts. There’s nothing worse than being told you are wrong by an interviewee – especially when it’s live.
16: Listen. The interviewee might want to use your interview to say something important that you were not expecting.
17: If the interviewee’s not happy with the way they answered a particular question, don’t give in to appeals for them to do it again – unless there is a factual error in the answer or there is a risk of serious confusion.
18: At the end of the interview, no matter how difficult the interviewee has been, always say thank you
19: Take notes. Beginning reporters often freak out when they realize they can’t possibly write down everything the source is saying, word-for-word. Don’t sweat it. Experienced reporters learn to take down just the interesting stuff they know they’ll use, and ignore the stuff they won’t. This takes some practice, but the more interviews you do, the easier it gets.
20: When you’re editing, don’t take answers out of context. That’s dishonest."
Conduct an interview with an adult about the role of mass media in his/her life. First, you must create 4-5 interview questions. Your questions should focus around how the adult receives the news and his/her opinions about various forms of mass media (i.e., "Do you think the internet is as trustworthy a source of news as a newspaper?") Make sure you bring their responses (either hand-written or typed) to class on Thursday. The person you interview must also provide a signature.
Taken from an article written by teenager, Amanda Nyguyen, for the Danville Patch publication:
"Teens, Mass Media and Society: Who Controls Who? Amanda takes a closer look at a topic discussed in her government class at San Ramon Valley High this week.
Mass Media is a huge part of teenage life.
I, and other teens I know, watch TV, surf the Internet and go on Facebook, all to find out what is going on with our friends and in the latest news. With all of these choices, the possibilities for "the word to spread" are endless.
In government class this week, we started studying mass media and society and are debating the question: "Does media control society or does society control the media?"
I believe that there is no "right answer," because both are true in different ways.
On one hand, society—meaning media consumers—controls the media by giving the media something to talk about. People send in news tips about local issues and when disaster strikes, the media depends on citizens to tell their story. For example, with the San Bruno fire on Sept. 9, several different stories popped up on the news, as residents of that area were reporting what had happened.
On the other hand, media controls society—as media consumers—by reporting what people may not hear about otherwise.
My government teacher, Don Busboom, used the example of pastor Terry Jones, who different media outlets have said was behind plans to burn copies of the Qur'an on Sept. 11. If the media had not broadcast the story to the nation and beyond, Busboom explained, no one would have known about Jones or the point he was trying to make—that burning the Qur'an would send a message to radical Islam.
In many cases, an event isn't a "story" until people start paying attention to it.
Teens can also decide how media is delivered to them and how they use it.
With communication at our fingertips we are constantly receiving, and broadcasting, new information.
If disaster strikes, or even if there is just a change in the weather, something will be said on Facebook and friends will update their status messages to reflect the current situation.
A growing trend among my friends, and no doubt other teens, is to watch comedy news shows such as "The Daily Show," which give you the news, as a parody.
These types of shows still deliver the news and inform viewers of world issues, but the comedic effect wears off the seriousness of any issue. This could give teenagers the wrong ideas about important problems because they are skewed by personal opinion.
However, getting the news through comedy seems to be more entertaining and maybe in the end, more effective, for teens with short attention spans.
With mass media expanding and technology adapting, teenagers will continue to become more and more informed. Good or bad is up to debate. But making teenagers more aware of important issues is no doubt a good thing."
With a partner, you are to come up with three examples as to why the mass media can be a positive influence on teens and three examples as to why the mass media can be a harmful influence on teens. Present your examples in a Keynote presentation, using images and/or articles. You will be sharing this with the class.