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Test Your ‘IQ’

Confirmation Interview

Sometimes, you’ve heard a rumor and want to find out if it’s true, or you’ve gathered information on something that you need to double-check with an official source or verify with a primary participant.


Find neutral terms such as “help me understand” and “explain,” which signal that you understand issues can be complex.

Ask people: “What do you make of _____?” Don’t ask: “Are you for or against it?”

And don’t act like a journalist in the movies and begin questions with, “Can you confirm or deny …” — it puts people on the defensive.

To publish a fair, accurate, community news site, you must take basic steps to verify the information you are reporting. Information can be verified by covering news events, by checking documents or by interviewing participants or stakeholders. Only by presenting fair and accurate information will you gain a following.

This is a necessity because readers will trust — and keep coming back to — a site that consistently provides accurate information.

“We’re in the age of the Internet now and it’s all rumors,” says Alyssa Katz, editor of The Eminent Domain, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based site that addresses neighborhood development issues. “It is your job to follow up and get the facts.”

Katz says she always asks where the information came from when she hears a rumor or news tip. Then she will go to the source and try to confirm it.

Sample Script:

“Mr. Mayor, there are reports running through the community that the old Sears Roebuck complex has been bought by developers and 500 townhouses are going to be built there. Can you help me understand what’s really going on?”

If the rumor is not true, ask: “Why do you think there’s so much buzz in the community about this?”

1. Newsgathering Interview
2. Confirmation Interview
3. Reaction Interview
4. Person-on-the-street Interview
5. Experts Interview
6. Balance Interview
7. Q & A Interview
8. Advance Interview
9. In-depth Interview
10. Gotcha Interview

Next Section (Reaction Interview)

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