Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

REphrase Me

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Steering Wheel

Talking to people with an agenda and a need to frame a message is very interesting.  I have talked with several politicians in recent weeks who have endeavored to restate the question I asked, not because it was inaccurate, but because it casts attention on an aspect of a particular issue that they wish to divert attention from.  Specifics would be indelicate, but suffice it to say that some politicians of some persuasions have a vested interest in casting a subject in the best light, in part by not using the language they perceive to belong to their opponent.

If politician A calls something X, politician B may choose to call it Y in part, to not acknowledge that the two actually share a common definition.  To admit commonality anywhere with the opposing party could put the support of their diehard constituents in jeopardy.  Or to use the language of the other side might risk giving credence to that other argument (even if they agree with it), which must be avoided at all costs.

I talked about message control and agenda setting in an earlier post, but there, I was talking about how people speak.  Here, I’m talking about what they actually do or don’t say in an effort to steer. The job of the interviewer isn’t to let the interviewee drone on their message unchallenged in an attempt to put it, them or their party in an unexamined light.

But it is interesting to watch when they try.

Written by Interviewer

October 2, 2014 at 11:52

Posted in Scratchpad

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