what does it take to successfully meet someone and in the space of a few minutes, understand where they are coming from and what makes them tick? who is to stop them from lying through their teeth? i think it is setting up a comfort level – also making them believe that you are a a non-threatening person to deal with. every time i have to do it, i always wonder what it is that makes someone willing to bare information about themselves and their life without giving it a second thought! When I had to switch sides and go to the other side of the table, I suddenly realised, it is just being yourself and if you speak from the heart, it is really tough to get it wrong. very importantly, you should be interviewing a person you are genuinely interested in knowing more about – otherwise it is a superficial q&a.
and it will always, always show when your interview lacks soul and depth. and the voice of the interviewer – how strong can it be? after all, you filter everything through your own consciousness and perceptions – how accurate are they? At the end of the day, reporting accurately is a misnomer – how can you report what is level one of chinese whispers? the correct interpretation of the question -> the correct interpretation of the answer -> the correct translation into words -> the judicious editing -> the correct interpretation by the reader. After so many filters, if the article still reads accurate, then it is actually a job well done.
if you overpower the interviewee and puts words in his/ her mouth, you are no better than a basic tabloid writer. when do you transition from journalist to writer? from empathy to wit and a modicum of charm, you are cajoling the best possible answers for the meatiest story. and twisted with veracity and smart writing. wow – who ever said it’s easy? and it doesn’t help when you are informed by the interviewee that ‘hey – its completely up to the interviewer to make it work, to create a great dialogue… no pressure, of course!’