Set up for the interview, even when you aren’t in the room

As student journalists and advisers, we often discuss how to conduct an interview – an essential skill.

These days virtual interviews are being used more than ever before so skills need to evolve as well. Student journalists can help sources feel comfortable, look and sound better even though the journalist may be distanced — COACH them!

Much like making small talk while setting up gear on a shoot, student journalists should prepare for their virtual interviews to help their source feel confident they will look good on screen and their message will be heard by media consumers. 

Here’s an infographic we developed after our editorial board talked about goals for the fall. My broadcast producer mentioned she wanted better footage than we were able to gather during spring quarantine. 

In an effort to get something, just anything produced, we had plenty of crazy audio, up-the-nose and backlit shots. Some of our reporters were too shy to ask high-profile subjects to move their camera, to change the direction of the light or move to a quieter location. 

In the past, reporters would control many of those factors by determining when and where to conduct an interview or taking along mics and light kits. It’s not easy to control the situation in an office or home far from the news crew. Much of the power is now in the hands of the interviewee, not the reporter.

We hope this infographic will help our sources prepare their environments and equipment prior to the interview. 

Our reporters plan to share this with potential sources when scheduling an interview. They’ll also be better prepared to make suggestions to capture the highest quality audio and video they can considering the gear at hand.

*For more information and tools for conducting virtual interviews, check out the resource JEA released this week: “New resource from JEA: A guide to conducting interviews remotely.”

Christina Geabhart

Christina Geabhart, MJE, advises a daily news broadcast, the monthly newsmagazine and online for Oak Park High School, plus a district sports broadcast program for NKC Schools in North Kansas City, MO. She has been the 2009 Missouri Interscholastic Press Association Journalism Teacher of the Year, a 2009 Dow Jones Distinguished Adviser of the Year and is one of the 2017 JEA Distinguished Broadcast Advisers of the Year. She has also served on KC metro, state and national committees and boards for journalism.

Christina Geabhart has 6 posts and counting. See all posts by Christina Geabhart

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