The Interview Prof. Jeremy Cox CMAT 131
Frost/Nixon Contains 28 hours of footage shot in 1977, four years after President Richard Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal. Edited into four, 90-minute segments. Both men had a lot riding on the results. Context: the Hunt hush money http://vimeo.com/28556490 Movie version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFHYiOfBRng
Types of interviews Opinion: concentrates on the beliefs of an individual, usually a prominent person or expert in a field Information: the main purpose is to communicate information, usually as a public service Personality: human-interest, or feature story interview Some combine all three.
Keys to success 1) Preparation 2) Being on time (early if you have to set up cameras and other equipment) 3) Dressing appropriately 4) Being courteous and mindful that your interviewee is sacrificing their time to meet with you (especially if you’re doing it for a school project or other small audience)
Preparation • Amount of research should depend on the length and purpose of the interview. • Research includes, particularly if they’re a relatively well-known figure • “Googling” • Wikipedia (especially the embedded links) • news accounts (Google News) • videos (YouTube, Hulu) • Their own websites, Twitter, Facebook pages
Preparation And if your subject is not well-known, you have to work a little bit harder. Some examples: a researcher in an obscure field, a new city council candidate, a DIII athlete, an ordinary person doing extraordinary things (neighbor saves dogs from burning kennel). Research may include local news coverage, property records, court/police records, talking to knowledgeable people in the community (gadflies), talking to people who know the subject Get your facts straight because you’ll look dumb otherwise
Interviewing Don’t start with the hard-hitting questions. You’ll just make your source clam up, become confrontational. Instead, start with a human-interest question, to loosen them up and put them at ease. “Mr. President, you just got back from a five-day trip to South Korea. Do presidents get jet lag?”
Interviewing Don’t waste your time or theirs on questions that can be answered elsewhere. Think of your audience and what they may know already. (You wouldn’t ask Alicia Keys on MTV what instrument she plays.) But if the interviewee is relatively unknown, you should begin the interview by setting up who they are. Also, regardless of the person’s fame, let the audience know what the purpose is. “I’m speaking to President Obama about his administration’s efforts to turn the economy around.”
Interviewing • Avoid yes/no questions. • No: “Was it fun working with Brad Pitt?” Which turns into: “Yes, it was fun working with Brad Pitt.” • Yes: “What was it like working with Brad Pitt?” Which turns into: “He’s a character on and off the screen...
Interviewing • This is not a monologue for the interviewer or interviewee. • Keep your questions short. • Avoid commentary. That’s the interviewee’s job. • During the interview, don’t let the interviewee speak at length for too long. (How long will vary by your audience and the type of program.) • Keep the interview on purpose.
Interviewing Seek depth. Get beyond the 4Ws and H: who, what, where, when and how Audiences yearn to know “why.” Remember Frost asking Nixon “why” he didn’t act on the information that men in his administration were covering up the burglary.
Interviewing Know the probable answers so you can anticipate follow-up questions. Write copy that fits the program’s style. Is this information, opinion or personality? Be specific with the questions. If you leave too much room for interpretation, your source will be able to more easily evade it. Follow up probing questions if the interviewee tries to avoid them.
Interview rules 1) Establish the purpose of the interview 2) Establish the type of interview approach to be used (sets the tone) 3) Establish who the interviewee is. 4) Establish the interviewee’s background in relation to the particular interview or news story
Interview rules (cont.) 5) Establish the setting. Could be the subject’s home, a studio, an event, their office, outside a courtroom. 6) Create a rising action; increase interest after you’ve got the audience’s attention through effective questions and follow-up. 7) Summarize at the end.
Assignment Prepare a broadcast script for a talk show on SUTV. Let’s call the show “Gull Talk.” Your interviewee is.... SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach
Assignment Follow the format used on the script on pages 272-3 in the Hilliard book. This is for radio, but don’t worry about ANNCR or anything like that. Come up with nine questions. Main topic and questions are up to. All I ask is that you incorporate all three styles of interviews: opinion, information, personality.
Assignment Make sure to introduce yourself and the guest. State the name of the program and its purpose. The introduction should be 2-3 paragraphs. One short paragraph at the end for the outro in which you thank your guest and say goodbye to your audience. Maybe even thank them for watching. Due Thursday at start of class.