By SARAH HARTNIG
Everybody has their own, specific set of weaknesses when it comes to news reporting. Some struggle with grammar, others with spelling and other still with remembering the nitty-gritty rules of Associated Press style.
And although I have my fair share of awkwardly worded sentences, horrifically misspelled words and inappropriately placed commas, my biggest issues have always come with interviewing.
It isn’t that I can’t ask good questions and it isn’t that I forget to ask for the correct names, spelling and titles of my sources. My issues comes with getting my sources to really open up and speak clearly and from the heart.
So if you often feel uncomfortable with your interviews — whether you are speaking to a classmate or to an esteemed professor — feel free to check out http://suite101.com’s relatively recent article entitled “How News Reporters Can Improve Interview Skills.”
In her story, writer Diane Rutherford reminds her readers to ask questions starting with words such as “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why” and “how.” This way, Rutherford explains, you will be sure to avoid “yes” or “no” questions.
Rutherford also explains that some reporters do not ask the questions they should because they are scared that they might sound stupid. She also gives useful tips on this topic, such as to “be honest” with the interview subject and to utilize phrases such as ‘’forgive me if this sounds like a stupid question, but…’”.
Do you struggle with covering sensitive, emotional stories because you feel uncomfortable dealing with upset or crying interviewees?
Here, Rutherford recommends proceeding with caution and expressing what she refers to as “genuine compassion.” She also suggests that interviewers proceed “gently” and to perhaps “express condolences” in order to ease into the conversation.
So the next time you sit down to interview a source for an upcoming story, take a look at “How News Reporters Can Improve Interview Skills” and become a better reporter.