Top Bar - All sites

Helping Community News Startups
Why Interview?
Interview Types
Interview Tools
Interview Ethics
Test Your ‘IQ’

Doing Research for Interviews

Whether you are writing about the school board, the county’s plans for a new skate park or police efforts to stop car break-ins, do some research before you do interviews or attend a meeting. Like you, your interviewee is busy. You want to be able to understand what’s being said without having to ask constantly for clarification or, worse, just to guess.

Where to begin?

If you’re researching a person:

  • See if they have a Web site or blog (many authors, for instance, do) or Google the name of the person, event or issue; sometimes you’ll discover a wealth of material.
  • See if their company or organization has a Web site with biographical material.
  • Check Wikipedia — but know that you need to double-check any information you find there.
  • Check newspaper archives online or at your local newspaper office; call ahead to make sure the files are open to the public.

If you’re researching an issue:

  • Check newspaper archives.
  • Do a Google search.
  • Check the public relations department of local universities for possible experts.

See if city council members or state legislative staffers have done research they can share: That way you won’t have to use valuable interview time (by e-mail, phone or in person) to ask questions such as, “So, what organization are you with again?” or “Can you tell me about the history of this issue?”

Such questions are tedious and waste time better spent eliciting answers to questions. These questions are also off-putting to the interviewee, as they suggest you are not interested enough to do your homework. Research doesn’t have to be time-consuming — a Google search or a quick call to someone in the community for background can go a long way.

You also might make a habit of asking your interviewee, at the time you request the interview, for recommended readings.

The Interview Process

More Helpful Tips on Doing Interviews

Next Section

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes