Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

We’re Outta Time

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This is a quickie.

Here and Now host Jeremy Hobson gets much love for very simply telling an interviewee that the interview was over.  He was talking to Eric Kingson, a professor of social work at Syracuse University.  Mr. Kingson was talking about the necessity of the Social Security Trust Fund and how, the looming problems of its underfunding can be alleviated if the rich would pay more and if Congress did not raise the minimum age again, since raising it could lead to another big cut for retiree benefits. 

The interview went smoothly.  Mr. Kingson provided a lot of valuable information.  Mr. Hobson professionally moved through his questions.  But at the end of the interview, after Mr. Hobson said goodbye, Mr. Kingson asked if he could add “one more thing.” 

“No, because we’re out of time” said Mr. Hobson, and that was that.

Interviewers always have to balance the message with the clock.  They also have to consider the candence and thought processes of the inteviewee.  They mix all of this together and decide, when they’ve got seconds to go, is there really time for one more thing.  Mr. Hobson decided, no, there wasn’t.

As an interviewer, I admire that decisiveness because it requires making the hard decision.  There were likely plenty of people affected by social security changes that wanted to hear more.  And the interviewer wants to be seen as the accomodating good guy that gives people their voice to a listening audience in the name of Democracy and all that.  And interviewees sometimes do think of “one more thing” to add that they consider important to the overall message. 

But Mr. Hobson probably has, as have all interviewers been, burned by interviewees who asked for time to say one more thing and instead, talked and talked until the interviewer is left in a panic trying to meet a network time cue so as not to piss off every station down the line.

I think the audience appreciates the fact that as nice as the interviewer can be, they also have to bring out the hammer sometimes.  That helps them keep the crediblity they need for the audience to respect them.

Again, good full stop, Mr. Hobson.

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Written by Interviewer

July 29, 2014 at 00:48

Posted in Scratchpad

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