Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

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This is a quickie.

First, go here – http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/05/blah_blah_blah_notes_by_willam.html

I’ve interviewed Jo Rae Perkins.  And I have been working to set up interviews with Mr. Conger.  Although I contacted all of the candidates for the race mentioned in this news story, I only followed up with those that showed any interest.

Though I’m not sure I would poke a candidate about the Easter Bunny because I was incredulous about their views over climate change, I understand when a reporter faces an interviewee that can be, to some degree, unpalatable.  You can find some of those posts here and here.

I always wonder how personal, familiar, jocular or whatever to get with interviewees.  I don’t know these people.  And knowing what I know about human ego in general and my own ego in particular, I’ve decided that when left w/the choice to say something snarky or keep my mouth shut, I’ll keep my mouth shut.  It doesn’t mean that some people, sometimes, don’t give me plenty of runway to say something absolutely and deliciously shitty.  But, what does it get me?  I mean, I may conclude that a candidate is a jerk.  But if I deny the audience the chance to decide that for themselves through my work, I don’t think I’ve served them.

Only the people in that room know how Mr. Callahan responded.  There is one way to say he felt Ms. Perkins wasn’t getting her respect and to demand his own.  And there is another way.  Just like there is one way to say you don’t agree with a candidate’s position, and there is another. And as I find me moving through another very large journalism related project, I am reminded of how important it is to treat people cordially.  I need stuff.  I have questions.  And if I act like an ass, my requests find their way to the bottom of the stack.

What I’m saying is, journalists are people too.

And BTW, Ms. Perkins stayed for the interview.  It seems she wasn’t nearly as bothered by the “blah, blah, blah” as Mr. Callahan was.

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Written by Interviewer

May 3, 2014 at 05:04

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