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Gotcha Interview

“Gotcha” interviews, sometimes known as confrontational interviews, are used most often by reporters in mainstream media, after they have gathered incriminating or embarrassing information.

Many citizen media producers find these kinds of interviews to be the most daunting to entertain, but it is critical to your credibility and only fair to the subjects of your stories to give them a chance to respond. “If I talk to one person who criticizes someone, then I have to talk to the person who was criticized,” says Suzanne McBride of Chicago Talks, a hyperlocal site for Chicago neighborhoods.

If you need to ask a tough question, the best strategy is to be direct and cite your sources.

McDermott of Global Action Project says citizen journalists should avoid interview techniques that embarrass sources or trap them into providing a certain kind of answer: “You look at interviews with Bill O’Reilly on Fox and wonder, ‘Is this a mugging or is this an interview?’ ”

Sample Script:

“Mr. Mayor, high-ranking sources within City Hall have provided us with copies of e-mails that suggest you accepted a bribe from a city contractor to pave the way for his company to win the contract to construct a new baseball stadium. Can you comment on 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

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