A New Twist on Interviewing Fears

Promoted by Roxy. Originally published 2010-05-21 09:15:38 -1000

Let’s take a different look at the fears surrounding an interview. When I wrote about overcoming the fear of conducting an interview in last week’s blog, I focused on citizen journalists’ concerns. Today, I want to look at interviewing fears from the other side – from the perspective of the person who is being interviewed. I’m not talking about high-profile individuals or politicians who are used to being questioned. I’m talking about average people who often avoid the spotlight. But they might be the subject of an interview because they are on the scene of an accident, are the victim of a crime, are participating in an event or have the expertise needed for a certain story.

These types of folks may have great trepidation when they are approached for a comment or an interview. Look at it this way: Many people fear the unknown. If they’ve never been interviewed before, you are giving them an unknown. As a citizen journalist, you can try to relax the individuals by taking your time with them. Be nice. Be sympathetic. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand where they are coming from. Let them know you want to tell their story. When I’m working as a citizen journalist and interviewing average people, I often find myself needing to explain in great detail what I am doing and that I am talking to them because they have a specific insight into what I am trying to report. So, I suggest taking your time with nervous individuals. Help them get over that fear. Who knows? You might end up with an amazing interview. Susan Cormier is the head coach in charge of training at the National Association of Citizen Journalists (www.nacj.us) and co-author of the "Handbook for Citizen Journalists" (www.citizenjournalistnow.com).

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I'd add that after my very first one on one interview (I interviewed Senator Dodd at an event on Healthcare reform) I had the tables turned on myself and was interviewed by someone wanting to know how I got 15 minutes of Dodd's time all to myself when all of the other reporters had about the same amount of time to share in a gaggle. It was an odd thing and I think I like being interviewed even less than I like doing interviews. lol

But if we don't get out there and ask the questions that never get asked nobody will ever know the answers to them. And, in my view, as an activist as well, the politicians will never know what we and other people we are asking the questions for are really thinking.