According to Harcup, interviewing is the main tool journalists have at hand to find out and elaborate more on stories. There are a few key principles and practices that journalists should therefore bear in mind when conducting an interview. (2004, P.127)

The first practice of an interview that Harcup suggests should be considered, is getting prepared for it. No matter what kind of interview is taking place and in what format, a journalist should always prepare themselves so that they know who they are interviewing and for what purpose. This is done by doing background research prior to the interview. (2004, P.128) The second practice of an interview is the way in which a journalist interviews. Harcup calls this the ‘winning grace’ of interviewing, in which a journalist experiments with different methods of interviewing, to find which method suits them best. For instance, asking short but direct questions that allows the interviewee to open up and give in-depth responses. It is important to consider the context and circumstances of the interview, for example when interviewing a corrupt politician, one might be more stern and firm in their approach, whereas if you were to interview a victim of an assault or a particularly vulnerable individual, one should be much more gentle in their approach. (2004, P.128-130)

Harcup states that it is important to consider the medium used for interviews, as they all have pros and cons. The most preferable interview is a face to face interview, as it will be much more in depth and you can understand a lot from a person’s body language. However, telephone interviews are often much quicker and to the point. A medium between the two is a video call, however they can be much more awkward if you are not already acquainted with the subject, and there is much more room for technical difficulties. Text and email interviews can be more convenient for the interview-ee as they can respond at their own leisure, however their responses could therefore be much slower paced than one may prefer, and could be much less in depth as they cannot be guided in their responses. (2004, P.130)

There are certain rules Harcup states that must be followed in interviews. For example, if an interviewee says something ‘off the record,’ the journalist is not allowed to include this in the final piece. They may revisit what was said, and suggest to the person in question that they may want to go on record with their previously off record statement, if it makes for a particularly good quote or piece of information, however if they still refuse, then the journalist must respect their right to go off record, and it must not be included in the final piece. (2004, P.135)

T, Harcup. (2004) Journalism: Principles and Practice. London: Sage


Chapter 11: Interviewing for print

Herbert states that interviewing is the only method of gathering quotes for an article. Before interviewing someone, as much research should be done beforehand in order to know what you want to gain from the interview. (1999, P.244) Research to consider is who the interviewee should be, and what quotes and information you are hoping to get from them in relation to your story. (1999, P.245)

A good interview, according to Herbert, should make the interviewee feel comfortable, so that they will then give more confident and in depth answers. To do this, journalists should start off by asking simple questions first in order to make the interviewee feel at ease, before getting into the more complicated and difficult questions. A journalist should also avoid overplanning for an interview. They should of course outline their questions, but shouldn’t stick to them rigidly. Instead, they should respond to the answers given, and use the questions as a guide. This way, the interview will flow better, make the subject more comfortable, and it is likely that the journalist will get better responses to quote. (1999, P.245-250)

Herbert, J. (1999) Journalism in the digital age. Oxford; Boston, Focal Press.

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