Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Talk Matrix

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I want to look at the different types of guest/interview mixes. There are several and each serves a different purpose;

Host to guest – This is the tradition mix. One interviewer, one host. This is the iconic, intimate conversation that you, the listener, gets to eavesdrop on. That can be the advantage. The disadvantage is that the guest might be boring or unresponsive or combative. In that case, the host and the listener are kind of stuck and everybody just has to plow through to the end. Experienced interviewers tend to have the skill and the resources to make most interviews palatable if not enjoyable more so than less experienced ones. But all interviewers have sometimes had a bad interview with a single guest.

Host to guests – You hear this when an interviewer is interviewing two or more guests. The best example of this is when an interviewer is talking with multiple members of band or a theater troupe. A variation is when a host is talking to two people representing opposing points of view. These tend to be high energy interviews, since the guests either know each other and play off of each other or know of each other and their respective positions. The disadvantage of these types of interviews is that the host can sometimes lose control of them because the guests get rolling in their own interpersonal dynamic, whether good or bad.

Hosts to guest – You see this mostly during news programs, when multiple anchors/hosts are talking to a single guest. The advantage of these types of interviews is you have different minds focused on the same guest, so different questions from other than a single point of view can be asked. This type of format is good when one anchor is known for pursuit and another anchor is known for conciliation or diplomacy. Producers can use them together to quickly shift the tone of a segment faster than one host may think to do.

Hosts to hosts – TV News stations in particular have done this for years. Anchor chatter is supposed to show you, the viewer, the camaraderie atmosphere amongst the anchors that is designed to make you comfortable enough to invite them (and advertisers) into your living room. You also see this during big news events like breaking news or political campaigns. Names and faces that we recognize as anchors or hosts in their own right now converse with each other from their own areas of expertise on the subject at hand. As a side note, the female anchor has traditionally been moderator, time keeper and moral authority during moments of anchor chatter, which are usually transitions from one segment (news to weather, sports to news, etc) to the other. A variation of this is something I’ve mentioned in a previous post; host to reporter. Both are a type of interviewer, but in different capacities.

Guest to guest – This deserves its own blog post.


Written by Interviewer

October 5, 2013 at 06:30

Posted in Scratchpad

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