Sunday, March 27, 2011

The radio interview

The interview – an exchange between a journalist or presenter and a source of information – is a difficult art. It requires good preparation, a knowledge of technique, heightened people skills, in other words paying attention to others. It should be thought of in terms of goal-focused strategy.

‘Explanation’ interview. Get information from your interviewee about his or her expert subject, or about something he or she is well-positioned to talk about.
‘Portrait’ interview. Bring out the personality of the interviewee on the air. 
‘Witness’ interview. Have a witness to an event. 
’Declaration’ interview. Ask the reaction of someone involved in the news, or of a politician for their immediate reaction to a story or meeting in which they have taken part.
’Vox Pop’ interview. Survey a slice of the population to give a reflection of public opinion about a news story.

1st  Research
Research is crucial. The pertinence of your questions and your capacity to resist being manipulated depends on how good your research has been.

2nd Making contact beforehand
Making contact with the person before the interview should give your interviewee a better understanding of  what is expected of him or her, and in what context the interview will be used. It also means you can assess whether or not someone will make a good interviewee.

3rd Preparing the questions
How you prepare your questions will depend on two criteria:

a) Who am I interviewing?
A politician, a colleague, the man in the street, an expert, a celebrity. You will tailor your questions in quite a different way for each.

b) What is it for?
A news bulletin, a current affairs programme, a general interest broadcast. The format and the atmosphere should be adapted for the different types of programme.
4th Preparing your equipment
· Make sure your recorder is working properly (microphone, cable, tape, cassette, mini-disc, plug, batteries, etc) by doing a quick recording and listening back to it.
· If the interview is to take place outdoors, take along a microphone wind-shield.
The non-directive interview: Begin with "Tell me about...", never use a question. This approach leaves the interviewee free to say whatever he or she likes without limiting him or her to the parameters of your own knowledge of the subject. You can then go back over the most important points raised, "sum up" each along the lines of "you were saying...". This method of interviewing is best for bringing out lots information, but it is the most difficult to master.
The directed interview: Only use questions, more or less open ones. The interviewer knows about what they are discussing, and sometimes even knows the answer he will get, but needs the interviewee to confirm the information.
The semi-directed interview: Alternate the questions between those which guide the interview to where you want to go and those which may invite interesting and enriching elaboration.
Closed questions: Reply is either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Eg. "Are you in favour of free speech?"
Multiple choice questions : The reply is induced.
Eg. "Are you in favour of the death penalty, or of life imprisonment?"
Semi-open questions: Replies are short and precise.
Eg. These questions in general start with ‘How many?’ , ‘Who?’ , ‘When?’ and ‘Where?’
Open questions: Detailed replies, open to explanation and justification, etc.
Eg. "What do you think about free speech?"
Think through the strategy of your questions
Start with a question that is more or less innocuous as a sort of ‘warm-up’ and to put your interviewee at ease. On the other hand you can also throw yourself right in with a difficult one, if you want to knock your interviewee off balance or create an atmosphere of controversy.
Alternate between open and less open questions to re-focus you interviewee on the subject or let him or her a little more freedom. If they are rambling, ask closed questions that demand precise answers. If you want them to open up a bit, ask broader questions to let relax them.
Use the "sum up" if your interviewee is trying to dodge answering an important point, re-formulating it as a question "So what you’re saying is…" More often than not, he or she will return to what they were trying to avoid!
Structure your questions, with the most interesting at the start. Then, if you’re running out of time, you will have got in the most important ones. This is the same principle as the "inverted pyramid" of news writing.
Avoiding the well-known pitfalls:
The interviewee answers your question with a question. Just stay quiet, wait for him or her to answer your question. If he doesn’t, ask the same question again. In rare, extreme cases, remind him the rules of the game: You are the interviewer, it’s your job to ask the questions. He agreed to the interview, and in doing so agreed to answer them. This should be said firmly, but not in an aggressive manner.
The interviewer starts to answer your questions saying "Yes, indeed…but one important question I feel I should address is…" or "that’s and interesting question and it raises another…", and proceeds to ask himself a question he wants to answer. Be vigilant. Keep going back to the issue you want to explore, politely but firmly, until you get a real answer.
A badly-prepared interview can leave the door open to manipulation. The journalist doing an interview should always be vigilant and sufficiently well briefed to be able to exercise judgement and discernment.

Info Collected from: Internet

Source: Prasar Bharti, All India Radio, Google, Wikipedia, Doordarshan

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