Interviewing and transparency


In the face of freshly renewed rape allegations against Bill Cosby, several news outlets chose to ignore the information while just as many jumped on the chance to hear the victims stories and unpack the possibility of a beloved comic icon being capable of such brutality.

Most recently Cosby appeared on the NPR show, Weekend Edition Saturday on Nov. 15, where he discussed loaning art to the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, before host Scott Simon asked Cosby to discuss the allegations leveled against him by several women including Barbara Bowman and Andrea Constand.

Post interview recording and before the piece aired, Simon took to Twitter to discuss the interview. Questions and backlash poured in at equal measure and Simon took the time to discuss the nature of interviewing and what defines journalism.

Despite the difficult nature of the questions, both in having to ask and having to answer, the principles of journalism demand that reporters bear with and do the difficult thing. By asking tough questions journalists should be able to uncover the difficult truths and at the end of the day it is the tension and novelty present in the answers that make a story newsworthy.

Interviewing is a notoriously difficult skill to learn and practice simply because people are so different from one another, and the soft ball questions that may open one person up may end up forcing another person to retreat into themselves.

When working as a reporter, it’s important to keep both the integrity of the interview and the comfort of the subject in mind, but it seems that if one is more important that the other it is the integrity of the interview and the ensuing news piece that wins out.