Interviews


Brief Description (including a definition if possible)


Interviews are a standard way for all kinds of journalists (print, radio, TV and web, as well as freelancers) to collect information. You might also want to conduct interviews yourself with staff members or clients to gather material for recordings or publications. Interviews are normally one-on-one, with a single reporter posing questions to one person. But similar techniques apply to other situations, such as group interviews, panel discussions, debates, and question-and-answer sessions during news conferences.


History (if applicable)



When to use

Doing interviews:
For the reconstructions of reality to be revealed, the conventional dichotomy between the interviewer and respondent should not be permitted to develop. Interviewing is therefore structured around a series of techniques that promote a sensitive and mutually beneficial dialogue. This should appear more like a structured conversation than an interview:

Semi-structured interviews (SSI).This is guided interviewing and listening in which only some of the questions and topics are predetermined; other questions arise during the interview. The interviews appear informal and conversational, but are actually carefully controlled and structured. Using a guide or checklist, the multidisciplinary team poses open-ended questions and probes topics as they arise. New avenues of questioning are pursued as the interview develops. SSIs are a central part of all participatory methods.

Types, sequencing, and chains of interviews. Many types of interviews may be combined in sequences and chains. These include key informant interviews, by asking who the experts are and then putting together a series of interviews (e.g., men on ploughing, women on transplanting and weeding, shopkeepers for credit and inputs); and group interviews, which may be groups convened to discuss a particular topic (focused or specialist groups), groups comprising a mix of people whose different perceptions illuminate an issue (structured groups), casual groups, and community groups.
(Source:http://www.fao.org/docrep/W5830E/w5830e08.htm )

How to use


Giving interviews:
You may have to deal with print, radio, telephone and TV interviews.

Print interviews: Interviews for newspapers, magazines and websites are generally longer than radio or TV interviews. A printed article can have more words than a broadcast interview. This gives you an opportunity to say more about your issue or your organization, and you can give more details.

Radio interviews: Interviews for the radio may be on-air (live) or recorded, to be aired at a later date. The recording may be used as is, or it may be edited.
They may take place in a studio, on location, inside or outside (for example, in your office) or over the telephone.

Telephone interviews: If a radio reporter calls and asks you to give a telephone interview immediately, you may...
Ask what they want to talk about, then say that there's someone with you and you'll call back in a few minutes: this gives you time to prepare.Make sure nothing will disturb you: close the office door and turn off a noisy air conditioner or fan.

TV interviews: Television interviews are like radio interviews, but now you can be seen as well as heard, so your appearance and actions are important.
If the interview is in the studio, get there early so you are familiar with the set and camera positions.
Think "the audience is interested in this topic". If you think they are interested, you will be able to present it in an interesting, lively way.

Tips and Lessons Learned

It is difficult to do a good interview. So it's a good idea to practise. You may want to practise delivering your message in front of a mirror, or record yourself on video.Another way is getting a colleague to interview you and asking him/her how you might improve. After an interview, it may be useful to get a copy of the recording and go through it critically to see how you can improve.
If you anticipate that others will be in the news, you should help them prepare, and offer to give them some practice.

The best interviews are where both the interviewer and interviewee are well prepared.
Here are some tips on how to prepare for an interview:
  • Select the image and a short specific message you want to convey
  • Find out what the interviewer wants to ask you about
  • Get information about the reporter
  • Be up-to-date
  • Anticipate the questions the reporter may ask
  • Choose the right location

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