FEATURE WRITING TASK 4A - Journalism Principles & Practice

The interview in news and features is key as without it we are just recycling other articles. Interviews can take place in person, over the phone, over text or via email. Interviews offer facts, quotes, opinions, emotion, description, colour, background and much more to an article.

Interview questions should be well planed with set questions but also expect the interview to take a unexpected turn.

Conversation is key to an interview, and not only to talk but also listen and not decide on your story till after the interview. Interviewers need to engage with what the interviewee is saying and not just fill silence gaps with the next question on their list. Eye contact is also important for face-to-face interviews but this aspect is lost via Skype interviews, which is why it’s important to keep it chatty and conversational.

Another thing to consider when interviewing via Skype or phone is tone of voice. And also don’t rush into the interview straight away, as you have no idea what the interviewee was doing or where they are when they picked up this call. Speak clearly, slowly and politely and explain who you are and why you’re calling. Telephone interviews tend to be shorter than face to face as the details get given pretty quickly. Ensure to always ask open-ended questions. 

Email and text interviews are a last resort, as they are a lot less personal. Interviewees usually prefer these interviews as it’s convenient for them and they can answer at their own convenience. The advantage of these interviews is that it’s easier to quote. 

For face-to-face interviews make sure:

-       You’re not late
-       You don’t smell of beer or cigarettes
-       You dress appropriately 
-       You keep eye contact
-       Look out for visual prompts

Interview questions come from research. Ensure that you’re thoroughly listening during an interview so that you can adjust questioning where necessary. Despite the topic, most interviews need to cover the 5 W’s.

Harcup, T. (2009). Journalism: Principles And Practice. London: SAGE Publications Ltd, pp.128-138.


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