By Jim Laurie, Director of Broadcasting, JMSC
The art of effective interviewing is essential to television news. Only by getting students out of the classroom, into real journalistic-life situations can the young journalist realize what is needed to conduct interviews for television.
During our field trip to rural Cambodia in April 2010, students Zela Chin and Suzanne Van De Erf profiled a young American woman providing educational tourism in small villages near the city of Siem Reap.
Daniela Ruby Papi was not a difficult interview, merely a very talkative subject. She could speak of anything about Cambodia at length. The challenge for the interviewer was to channel her thoughts, ask precise questions to elicit concise answers that further the television story. Long imprecise questions encourage the subject to ramble. Worse, a long rambling question can elicit a one or two word answer, so shaping questions correctly is critical. It is important to avoid double-barrelled questions, and get to the point.
Zela and Suzanne soon realized that they probably had too much sound, and too long of an interview from Daniela. The long interview slowed down the editing process.
Television journalists must think of how the answers to questions will edit cleanly into a package. Both Zela and Suzanne discovered that careful planning, concise questioning, and a well focused interview served them better when shaping the story in the editing room back in Hong Kong. It was for them a learning experience in the field.