How To Interview Essay

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Interviewing techniques
News writing tips for the non-journalist.
University of Missouri, Lincoln University, U.S. Department of Agri- culture and local University Extension Councils cooperating.
University Outreach and Extension does not discriminate on the basis
of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability or status as a Vietnam era veteran in employment or programs.
David L. Burton, Civic Communication Specialist University Outreach and Extension,
833 Boonville, Springfield, Mo. 65802 Tel: (417) 862-9284
E-mail: burtond@missouri.edu
The most important question : "What do you make of that? ...view middle of the document...

" They need to allow people to talk at their own speed instead of forcing them into rapid- fire responses that journalists so often demand. Research shows that one of the best interviewing techniques is to simply lay out the situation or topic and then ask, "what do you make of that?" Then, af- ter asking the question, shut-up and listen. You will get further information on the topic by also asking, "Explain what you mean by that?"
Advice from other reporters "I'm finding very often that when I say, 'Tell me more about that?' or 'What do you mean by that? that they didn't mean what I thought at all. And I'm wondering how many times I changed people's minds by the way I asked the question? When you're not clear about what they're saying, don't ask them: 'Do you mean this?' Ask them: 'What do you mean?' And sometimes you have to ask them the question three or four times. So you have to be very disciplined. And you have to keep coaxing them in. The reward is that you learn what it is that they mean. Not what you think they mean."
• Kimberly Kimby, Orange County Register
"What are the issues that are concerning you about your neighborhood or profession, whatever it may be? It doesn't have to be a neighborhood. Espe- cially when you're immersing yourself in a new area, that's invaluable because you're going to get five or six story ideas from each person, as opposed to starting out with an agenda and telling them what you're writing about."
- Ken Koehn, Tampa Tribune
Subscribe to Southwest Region News Service by sending your e-mail address to:
burtond@missouri.edu. This news service provides weekly articles that are educational
and deal with local topics of interest.

Preparing for the interview Don't go to an interview unprepared. Check files
and library for information on your subject or topic. Have your questions ready. Don't expect your news source to tell you voluntarily what you want to know. Your questions help organize your thoughts and re- mind you to get the answers you want. Make an appointment. You can't go into a busy of- fice and get 30 minutes unless you first set up an ap- pointment. Then make sure you arrive on time. Take three things with you on every assignment: a pencil, a piece of paper, and a grain of salt. Be a bit skeptical, don't believe everything you're told.
Conducting the interview • Introduce yourself and your publication. • Look your subject in the eye. Don't be so busy
taking notes that all the source sees is your flying fingers and the top of your head.
• Double-check dates and spelling of names. Even a name like Smith can be spelled differently.
• Begin with easy, sociable questions to relax the person you're interviewing. Avoid questions that appear to have predetermined answers.
• Ask open-ended questions that invite a lengthy answer and can bring out opinions: ''How did you react?'' or ''Why do you think that happened?'' or "What do you make of that?"
• Don't ask questions that...

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