Interviews come in all shapes, sizes
- Long, formal
- Quick phone
- On-the-fly chat
Interview pros and cons
- Best way to build rapport
- Physical surroundings can provide useful data
- People take you more seriously when you are in front of them
- Wastes time traveling and waiting
- Distractions can interrupt interview
- If you are uncomfortable, it becomes obvious
- Fast and efficient
- Less intimidating
- Cell phones allow interviews to take place anywhere at any time
- Difficult (and sometimes illegal) to record
- More likely to mishear or misquote someone
- Gives interviewees time to construct responses
- Offers the most flexibility
- Typed responses easy to copy and paste; provide record of what was said
- No personal interaction
- Lagtime between questions and answers
- Are you sure the person is who he/she claims to be?
Tips for successful interviews
Setting up the interview:
- Do your homework.
- Think through story.
- Determine best way to interview.
Set up interview.
Decide where and when to meet.
Ask if photos will be allowed.
Preparing for the interview:
- Continue research.
- Organize questions.
- Rehearse the interview.
- Arrive on time.
- Dress appropriately.
During the interview:
- Be in charge.
- Start with basics.
- Budget time.
- Begin with softballs.
- Focus questions.
- Keep it simple.
- Limit “yes/no” questions.
- Get every question answered.
- Ask follow-up questions.
- Stay flexible.
- Ask people to slow down.
- Don’t worry about asking a dumb question.
- Look around.
- Use reassuring body language.
- Use silence.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Don’t take sides.
After the interview:
- Review notes with interviewee.
- Ask who else you should contact?
- Ask permission to call later.
- Ask interviewees to call you.
- Say, “Thank you.”
- Review notes again privately.
- Check back with sources after story runs.
- “Were there any questions I should have asked?”
- As an alternative, run the interview as a Q&A.
- Let’s readers feel they are eavesdropping.
Strive for racial and gender balance
- Connect with all your readers.
- Vary ages, genders, races and lifestyles of people you interview.
On the record. Off the record.
On the record:
- Information can be printed.
- Source can be identified.
Off the record:
- Information cannot be printed in any form.
- Information can be used.
- Source cannot be identified by name.
- Information can be used.
- Source cannot be revealed.
One-on-one is not the only option
- Many interviewers, one interviewee
- Many interviewers, many interviewees
- One interviewer, many interviewees
Real words give stories personality
- But be careful.
- People lie.
- Fudge facts
- People yammer.
- And stammer
- And ramble
How to use quotes in a story
- Direct quote
- Use when speaker’s entire sentence presents ideas in relevant, concise way.
- Partial quote
- Use when quote is too long or awkward.
- Use to rephrase a source’s ideas in a clear, concise way.
- Use to capture conversations.
Problems to avoid
- Dull, obvious quotes
- Rehash the quote
- Using quote as lead
- Read minds
- Create monologues
- Mimic dialects
- Repeat foul language
- Distort quote’s meaning
Punctuation advice for quotes
- Double quotation marks
- Single quotation marks
- Periods, commas
- Colons, semicolons and dashes
- Question marks
- Capital letters
Nine guidelines for wording and positioning attributions
- Use full name first time.
- Put nouns before verbs.
- Attribution follows quote when quote is one sentence.
- Attribution at end of first sentence if multi-sentence quote.
- Can start quote with attribution.
- Can set up long quotes with attribution followed by colon.
- Insert attributions in quotes in logical spots.
- Only one attribution needed.
- Begin a new paragraph when you change speakers.
Should it be said or says?
- Present tense appropriate for:
- Reviews that describe music or drama as if it’s happening now.
- Feature stories.
- Broadcast newswriting.