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Newsgathering Interview

One of the most fundamental tasks a journalist engages in before writing a story is gathering information. A key part of that process involves calling, e-mailing or in-person interviewing of people who have knowledge about the subject of the story. Perhaps you need information about the history of a dispute or piece of legislation. Maybe you need to understand what the current status is. Or you need to reach out to interested parties whose viewpoints have not been represented. You can also use interviews to develop better questions for other interviews.

“Sure, you can look things up on the Web, but not everything there is accurate,” cautions Meghan McDermott of Global Action Project. “So ideally you use both the Web and interviews.”

Often, newsgathering interviews generate background information rather than quotes. You just need a smart person to bring you up to speed. In fact, you may be able to agree not to quote people to help them feel comfortable telling you more. If you decide you would like to put information on the record, ask their permission and agree on attribution.

Sample Script:

“Mark, I want to do a story on the redevelopment of the Weekly News Magazine complex. There seems to be a lot of confusion in the community. Do you have five minutes to give me a recap on background? I don’t need to quote you for this.”

If Mark tells you terrific stuff, say: “Mark, that’s the best explanation I’ve heard yet. I need to do some more reporting, but can I circle back to you and see if you would be comfortable putting some of this information on the record?”

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 (Confirmation Interview)

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