How to interview somebody in an effective way

Posted: 1 December, 2011 in Multimedia Reporting

Robin Gaby Fisher is the New York Times bestselling author of “After the Fire; A True Story of Friendship and Survival” (to read a summary click here) and “The Boys of the Dark; A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in the Deep South.” She is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing and a member of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team at The Star-Ledger. She teaches Journalism at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. And she has come to our class to tell us what she knows about interviewing people…

  • The best trick is to care about the person you are interviewing, that you are paying attention to what he’s saying. Maybe you’ll gonna have to learn something about their culture to really understand them.
    • She got really bounded with a kid that got burnt during a fire, whose story she wrote. One of her hardest dilemmas was to write the part when his girlfriend dumped him because she didn’t want to hurt any of them, but still wanted to tell the complete story of what happens to people that get brunt. And that includes people leaving them. To see Matt Rainey’s pictures, for which he won also a Pulitzer prize, click here.
  • You want to tell the interviewees your goal, that you need full sentences, that you need everything on the record.
  • The most important thing is to tell the truth: maybe some people are not going to be happy about it, but it’s true and they’ll respect you with time. People give you what they receive from you.

She has also some anecdotes about her interviews:

  • She got contact high because of interviewing a girl that was smoking weed.
  • She had to contact the chief from a gang because he wanted to know what her intentions were when interviewing one of the boys in the gang.

And also… How do you get ideas for your stories? Be curious, look around you, talk to people. Noising

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