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Interviewing

A practical guide for citizen journalists

What this module can do for you

Interviewing: A practical guide for citizen journalists will show you:

1) How interviewing can improve your community reporting.

2) How to identify what type of interviews fit your goals.

3) How to find people to talk to.

4) How to approach them and arrange an interview.

5) How to conduct productive interviews.

6) How to edit and publish an interview.

7) How to navigate ethical conundrums that can come with interviewing.

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Test your 'IQ'

Who doesn't love a fun quiz?

We have built two short quizzes to test your "Interview Quotient."

First quiz

Second quiz


Several citizen media producers say they'd like to do more interviewing but don't know the best way to go about it. Others aren't sure they need to — why not let someone with another idea just post a comment or start his or her own blog? — but they are intrigued about the possibilities that interviews can offer. Still others said that knowing what to do after the interview, including sorting and compiling notes, and editing the interview, were the tasks they found most difficult.

We'll guide you through the process. Along the way, we'll introduce you to some of those citizen media makers who make good use of interviews. We'll link you to examples and a range of resources. Whether you already interview or are daunted by the prospect, there will be something in this module for you.

What an interview isn't ...

For people who are new to reporting, television and movies may have turned the act of interviewing into an intimidating exercise. Consider:

  • Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes" stalking a corrupt executive through a parking lot, barking questions at him.
  • Barbara Walters or Oprah Winfrey leading a celebrity into a misty-eyed confession of a deep, dark personal secret.
  • Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (you saw All the President's Men, didn't you?) circling around a reluctant source trying to pry out information.

However, an interview is more than an act of extraction. It's not just something that only serves the interviewer and takes something away from the interviewee. It's an important part of adding accuracy, fairness and credibility to your reporting. As a citizen media producer, perhaps you "interview" in entirely different ways — by being active in your community, chatting with people about the latest happenings at community events, sharing information among friends and neighbors.

For you, interviews can be conversations as well as more formal newsgathering exercises.

What an interview is ...

Think of an interview as a conversation in which you are trying to learn something new or to confirm or add to what you think you know. Usually, an interview is a chance to listen to someone who has an area of expertise or a stake in an issue, an event, a place, or an outcome that may be important to others in a community.

Many people love to talk. Even shy people. Especially if they have an attentive audience. So an interview — a conversation that may lead to some form of publication — can be fun, creative, compelling and even moving. Conducting a good interview can allow you to grow in your own knowledge and, by sharing that knowledge, impact a wider circle.

This module addresses the art of interviewing. In the hands of a good reporter, interviewing is an art. At its best, a good interview allows people to tell their stories their way, whatever those stories may be.

Module Map:

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Why interview?

Citizen media producers and experts make a case for interviewing, and reflect on obstacles, from time constraints to power dynamics.

Q&A with Sheila Regan | Greater Fulton News Feature

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Interview types

Interviews aren't one-size-fits all. Here are 10 types of interviews to help you meet your specific needs.

Newsgathering | Confirmation | Reaction | Person-on-the-street | Experts | Balance | Q & A | Advance | In-depth | Gotcha

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Interview tools

Tips for what to do before, during and after an interview, from the initial approach to editing quotes.

Before | Research | During | After | Editing Quotes

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Interview ethics

It can be hard to juggle roles as a citizen and a journalist. Here are some helpful pointers for sticky situations.

Best Practices | Achieving Balance | Confirming Quotes

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Test your 'IQ'

Take these quizzes to test your 'Interviewing Quotient.'

Quiz 1 | Quiz 2

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Resources

Other training tools, articles and examples.

State Recording Laws

Overview Why interview? Interview types Interview tools Interview ethics Interview quizzes Resources About