Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Tight as Hell

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Hair on Fire

I recently listened to a program where the guests were talking  about climate change as it affected water use in California.  At the end of the program, the editor identified themselves.  It was the answer to a question I’d wondered for the entire 59 minutes.

I’ve talked about the benefits of a program being “tight” before.  But when you listen to a conversation, you’re not just listening to the words.  You’re listening for a rythmn, a pacing, a cadence.  You want to be able to settle into a cycle of up and down, of ebb and flow.

Smoothness is just as important as volume and pitch in a well produced and edited conversation.  And that means hearing the natural breaks between words, the natural pauses between sentences.  The breaths.

This program was amazing in that it packed so many questions and answers from these four people into such a short period of time.  But the entire program sounded winded from the beginning.  The edits were so close, they threatened to draw blood from each other.

I understand wanting something to move quickly so that it stays interesting.  And I understand having so much information that you want to insure you get it all in.  But you don’t want whatever it is you are editing to sound like one long run on sentence.  You don’t want your listener to be exhausted by the time they get to the end, because if they are, did they really hear it?

To that end, don’t artificially move a conversation faster than it should move.  On one side, that means don’t edit it so tightly that light can’t escape from the gaps.  Or, don’t use technology to speed up the programming; something that is happening in both TV and radio.  On the other side, if you have too much information and only so much time, be a producer and do what producers must sometimes do for quality’s sake.


Written by Interviewer

December 9, 2015 at 03:48

Posted in Scratchpad

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