Overcome the Fear of Conducting an Interview
One of the most powerful ways for citizen journalists to get information for a story is through personal interviews with people who have the information they need.
But many acting and aspiring citizen journalists talk about the apprehension they have about conducting interviews. They wonder how they will muster up the courage to approach strangers or high profile individuals and begin asking questions.
So how do you overcome that fear?
I'll use myself as an example. Because I am basically a very shy person, I learned to deal with this in a couple of ways.
First, I recognize that we are all people who put our trousers on the same way each day - one leg at a time. That puts us at a low common denominator.
Second, I identify myself and say that I'm working as a citizen journalist writing for ePluribus Media, the Berthoud Surveyor, YourHub.com or whatever publication or news outlet I'm writing for at the time. That information gives me some authenticity and a reason for asking questions.
Third, I realize that we all have a job to do, whether it's a football coach who just lost a big game, a county commissioner who voted on a controversial issue or a citizen journalist.
As citizen journalists, we are just doing our jobs - to inform the public about what is happening in our communities. To do that, we need to get as much information as possible.
You can tell the commissioner that his or her constituents will want an explanation of his or her vote. You will be saving the commissioner time in phone calls, etc., by including that side of the story in your article. Same for the coach, school principal, whoever.
So as shy as I am, that's the way I deal with it. I put on my reporter's cap and I'm doing my job - asking questions to inform the public and forgetting that I'm shy.
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).