gotcha journalism

Are You a Pugnacious or Assertive Citizen Journalist?

There is more than one way to interview someone for a news story.

Some journalists take the role of an unfriendly, disbelieving inquirer who wants to catch the interviewee in some moment of confusion or expose him/her as a hypocrite, ignoramus or buffoon. I refer to this as “gotcha” journalism.

Some journalists take the role of a supportive, affable colleague so they don’t ask any tough questions that might embarrass the interviewee. This often called throwing softballs, but I call it “brownnose” journalism.

The really good journalists take the role of an objective, neutral interviewer with no agenda except to get the interviewee’s side of the story. This is called unbiased journalism.

The role you take as a journalist interviewing someone for a story is important, but there are other aspects of the journalist’s interview that will also help or hinder your quest for a complete story. The words used to formulate questions, the tone of voice used to ask them and the body language employed in the interview either contribute to or detract from a successful interview.