Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Posts Tagged ‘host

What’s in a Name?

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For anyone who watches, reads or listens to news, you know the people who deliver that news to you can go by different titles.  And sometimes, it’s not always easy to understand how the title connects to how they are delivering it.  This is a primer for you.

Anchor or Host – This is usually the person whose voice you hear or whose face you see.  Often, they introduce people, called reporters or correspondents, who have stories to tell although they too tell stories.  The difference is reporters and correspondents have gone somewhere else or are somewhere else and either tell that story from where they are or have come back to share what they’ve learned.  The stories the anchor tells may be from someone else, meaning the anchor probably didn’t author them.  Also, anchors tend to their stories only from the “anchor chair” in front of the microphone or the camera.  This is why sometimes, your anchor will be “on assignment”.  Anchors or hosts sometimes become reporters to help them resharpen their reporting skills or because of their prestige or stature within a station, they are afforded the opportunity to do high profile stories and return to the station to tell them.

Correspondent – A correspondent is a reporter who reports from a location outside of the country which is home to their media organization.  US reporters working as foreign correspondents serve like diplomats.  They may be assigned to a news bureau in a country for a year or more and spend time developing contacts in that country.  They may regularly use foreign language skills and work closely with the US State Department or the US Military.  Because of their connection to media and government, they may also be targets of hostile host nationals who would seek to kidnap and extort or kill them for some political or geo-political purpose.  Many times, when a network correspondent leaves an assignment, they return stateside for a period to “detox” from their foreign service which may have included long stretches in war zones.  Freelance correspondents however may move from one such hot spot to another.  Much has been written about this suspected “addiction to conflict” among some foreign correspondents.

Reporter –  A reporter usually operates close to their media organization “in the field” although they may occasionally report “away” but in the same country.  They tend to float from one story to another depending on where the station needs them to go.  Or they cover certain types of stories all the time; the political reporter, the finance reporter, the crime reporter.  It used to be that reporters traveled with support.  For instance, a newspaper reporter would be accompanied by a photographer.  A TV reporter would be accompanied by a videographer.  Radio reporters, because radio didn’t have a visual component, went alone to stories and had a tape recorder.  Today, because of budget cuts at media organizations and the increase in the use of social media, newspaper, TV and radio reporters may be responsible not only for telling the story verbally or aurally but also visually.  Many reporters may now carry small, high definition cameras for providing content for station run, social media accounts.

Journalist – Ideally, all anchors, correspondents and reporters are journalists.  A journalist is a storyteller who, under the best conditions, investigates stories and tells those stories with a minimum of bias and in such a way that the reader, viewer or listener has enough trustworthy facts to make up their own mind about what the story means to their lives as well as to whom and what they care about.

Written by Interviewer

January 27, 2015 at 04:48


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This is a quickie.

Sometimes, an interviewer will introduce a guest or a number of guests with the expectation that after he finishes the introduction, the guests will acknowledge the introduction by saying something like how glad they are to be there or how grateful they are to have to opportunity to talk.  It’s the official go ahead to the host that the interview can commence.

But sometimes that doesn’t happen.  Sometimes there is dead silence from everybody.  Then, the host is stuck in that wierd little moment between waiting for the guest(s) to acknowledge the introduction and deciding to plow forward without it.

That happened today with Dave Miller, the host of the Oregon Public Broadcasting noontime radio news program “Think Outloud”.  Following a long and flowing introduction of three people who were on the program to speak of their history with former Oregon Republican Governor Vic Atiyeh who had just been honored in a memorial service, none of them said anything.  After a couple seconds, he moved on but you could tell he was caught a little off guard.  After all, you might expect one person out of three to not say anything.  But three out of three?

As an interviewer, you always wonder when that happens why that happens.  It’s sort of a social convention – equivalent to saying thank you when someone holds open a door.  When the convention gets broken, it can be a surprise.  And the dynamics can be a little hard to understand.  Maybe the longer any guest doesn’t hear any other guest speak first, the longer none of them choose to speak first.  Maybe they consider the nicety superflurous and so they don’t participate in it.  Maybe they didn’t hear the introduction or weren’t paying attention to it.  Or maybe they just want to punk the host.  All have happened to me.  Who knows?

But interviewers, journalist, reporters; anyone who publicly  engages the public knows that expecting people to behave a certain way is risky.  You want to give them their respect and make room for cordiality.  When it doesn’t come though, you can’t blink.  You just think to yourself, “Well, it is what it is” and just keep going.

Written by Interviewer

September 4, 2014 at 02:33

Losing Control

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dueling microphones

The interplay between interviewer and interviewee is a delicate one.  And sometimes, you hear the balance go off-kilter.  Such was the case in today’s installment of “Q” with guest host Terry O’Reilly  He was talking with reporter Ben Hubbard, the Middle East correspondent for the New York Times, about the issues in Dubai and free speech.  And the reporter had a lot of information to share.  But the interview had two problems.  One, the reporter didn’t realize he was bogarting the interview, and two, Mr. O’Reilly didn’t cut him off when he needed to be cut off.

Hosts are the captains of the interview ship.  They have the clock in front of them, they’re thinking about editing and network breaks.  So they have to be the ones to corral guest commentary.  And you can feel it when it isn’t happening.  The most obvious clue is when you hear the host trying to force their way back into the momentum of the guest’s response and failing. You see this at parties when someone on the periphery of a conversation tries to say something to capture the attention of the circle but a more powerful and maybe more credible someone keeps talking and so, holds the attention of the assemblage.  I call this “The Talkeover” and either the host or the interviewee can be guilty of it.

Of course, a guest with a history of being interviewed knows hosts need to cut in sometimes and has an obligation to let them.  But another problem is when a host has a guest with specific and unique information that timeliness might demand they share all at once.  You don’t want to stop them, really, because nobody else might have this insight or you don’t know when you’ll get them again or they might tell you something your researchers or librarians have left out of your notes.  So you balance the risk of letting them talk to the risk of cutting them off.

This isn’t a case of either person being rude.  It’s more both parties trying to fulfill their responsibility as journalists as each of them understand it.  And even between practicing professionals, it can get kind of hazy.  Worse, it can leave the audience wondering what just happened.

Written by Interviewer

January 7, 2014 at 05:38

Posted in Scratchpad

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