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TYPES OF INTERVIEW

There are two main types of interview:

1. as research for a news story;

2. as a performance; part of the story in its own right (mainly for broadcast).

It is important not to confuse the research interview for a news story with the performance interview for a TV or radio bulletin. The kind of adversarial interview by Jeremy Paxman for Newsnight is completely different to the interview you might carry out with the same politician for the same story, but off-camera or microphone. Many young and inexperienced reporters fall into the trap of believing that a research interview is the same as the performance and that a hectoring, intrusive manner is required. This is likely to lose you the interviewee very quickly and will certainly not encourage them to tell you anything useful. Even as a performance it is not always productive and several top-notch professionals, including Sir Robin Day, have had interviewees walk out on them (although of course this can be a good result in terms of TV drama).

There are several different types of research interview used by reporters.

· The formal, arranged press conference interview. This allows many rep orters to interview one or more persons at once. It has the advantage of being efficient for the interviewee, but is limiting for the reporter as all media get the same material.

· The one-to-one short interview. Short conversations with police officers, emergency workers and plant operatives. None of these are long (the interviewees are too busy for lone conversations) and they are focused on specifics, but they can still be useful for pointing up issues and adding colour. They can involve speaking to a number of people. These types of interviews are most likely to be done face-to-face but are also often done on the phone, or possibly by e-mail.

· The one-to-one interview. This is the reporter speaking to one of the key people involved in a story. This could be a senior police officer or the most senior representative of a company. These are often difficult to arrange on a big story, as this is what all the reporters want and these people are busy. It can be done by phone or e-mail, as well as face-to-face.

· The vox pop. This involves speaking to a number of people and asking their opinion about an issue. Vox pops (derived from Latin meaning 'voice of the people') are still often used on TV or radio, but are less popular in newspapers than they used to be. People are asked their opinion on a burning question of the day such as, 'Should we join the euro?' It can be useful to add colour to an issue of this sort that is otherwise likely to be heavy going and full of quotes from dull but worthy politicians and economists.

· The profile interview. This is an in'depth, face-to-face interview that is likely to take time. Most likely to be used to research a feature or personal profile, it is certainly used to really get under the skin of the interviewee. It is almost impossible to do well over the phone, because of the inability to see all the non-verbal communication. An e-mail interview of this type would take even longer than a face-to-face interview hut might be useful for someone geographically remote. The possibility of such a person using a PR to write their responses, or at least advise on them, makes this type of interview technique for a profile practically useless, hut it might be all right for an in-depth feature or news interview.

 
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