Hello again. Welcome back to the course. This week, we're going to and bring together the two sides of the essential job of the journalist. Finding things out and communicating them clearly. We're going to be concentrating on interview skills. Next week we'll take the skills to a new level and talk about complicated methods such as on and off the record, developing context and so on. This week we're just going to be talking about the basics of the targeted professional conversation that is the journalistic interview. I'm going to talk through a few principles. And then we're going to watch interviews with the characters you've met in Newstown. You might like to remind yourself who these people are by looking at the Newstown website. In fact, if you haven't looked in detail at the Newstown site since last week. You might like to take some time to explore it now, because there's some more material there, which the reporters on the alternative have dug up from searching some of the kinds of public records that we talked about last week. Take a pause now if you wish. Now, back to interviews. Do you remember this quote from last week? It's a really important principle. But like most important things, not as simple as it sounds. Most of us find interviewing confronting, not least because it's not a polite conversation with no aim behind it. It's a targeted professional exercise. So interviewing can be very frightening, both for the subject and the interviewer. On the other hand, one of the constant rewards of the profession is having the license to ask questions and get answers. There are some limits of course. Dennis will talk later about particular cases where you're dealing with a vulnerable interview subject. And later still in this course, we'll talk more about on and off the record and how to handle confidential sources. But in terms of making the most of interviews, it's important to remember that you're there for a purpose, an important public purpose. In fact, only one driving purpose, to get information. There are some subcategories of information. Information might include insight. So for example, one of the interviews we'll be seeing later, is where the survivor of a traumatic event to mark anniversary of the black Saturday wild fires that were traumatic for many people in Newstown. Obviously we won't be holding this person to account in the same way that we might for example, the Mayor. Different techniques will be appropriate. Broadly speaking, there are two different kinds of interview. The collaboration and the adversarial. Many interviews, in fact, veer between the two at different stages, but the ideas are important. The collaborative interview is when the subject wishes to tell their story or convey facts to the public, and that's your aim too. Most interviews have this element to them, even if they're also adversarial. An adversarial interview is when you're holding the interview subject to account, trying to get answers they don't want to give, to challenge them. Neither interview has to be rude or involve shouting. In fact, an assertive measured tone is nearly always more effective in getting good information than high drama. One good thing to remember is that it's never about you. It doesn't matter if you think a question is stupid. Journalism is largely about asking stupid questions, which in fact are rarely stupid. They're often the best questions. The measure of success is what you carry away. In the way of usable material. And how you feel is not the measure of success. Now over time, you'll develop your own interview style. It's a mistake, in fact, to try and copy anyone else's, although you can certainly learn from watching and listening to broadcast interviews. In fact, I'd encourage you to do so. You can also look at the website for the course for some resources on interviewing. It's an endlessly fascinating subject. We particularly recommend the BBC Academy of Journalism - Skills for this. But here are some basics. You may never have thought about this, but there are three different kinds of questions. Open, closed, and what I call no question. The last one might be confusing. So open questions are those that put the power in the hands of the interview subject. They're not trying to steer a particular answer. So for example, I might ask you, how are you finding this journalism course? The open question forces you to reflect and to think, to compose your thoughts, and to give me an answer. It places a lot of power in your hands. You are really steering the interview. Closed questions on the other hand most naturally lead to a yes or no answer. They're terrific if I'm really trying to tie you down. Do you like journalism, might be the way I would ask you a closed question. The natural answer is yes or no. If you don't want to talk to me, that's probably all you'll give me. On the other hand of course it is possible that you will give me more than that. But you don't have to in order to sensibly and politely answer the question. No question is even more complicated. It's in fact, not a question at all. It's a remark. Sometime's it can even just be an exclamation. So for example, I could say to you; Journalism must be awesome! And you might then tell me; Well, no it's not actually, it's very boring, I'm not enjoying it all and probably won't continue with this MOOC. Or I could say, I can't imagine what it must be like to do journalism. And of course, the pressure is then upon you to tell me something about that. Now all these questions have advantages and disadvantages. The advantages if an open question is that it forces the interview subject to think and to talk. As I said earlier, it gives the interview subject the power, which particularly with somebody who's a little intimidated. It can often be a good thing. It can also be a good thing when you're dealing with traumatised people, as Dennis will talk about in more detail later. And also, in cases where you actually don't know what the interview subject has to tell you, starting with an open question at least, gives them a chance to actually layout the field for you if you like, or tell you the material that you need to cover. The disadvantages. It allows the interview subject to direct the encounter. In an adversarial interview, it can mean that the interview subject runs right over the top of you and you don't get what you need from the encounter. If you're dealing with somebody who is rambling and who doesn't want to get to the point. An open question is a license for them to take you all around the houses without you getting where you need to be. And of course, if you're not focused it can mean that important questions don't get asked or answered. Closed questions have lots of advantages as well. They put the control in your hands. You can't actually force the interviewer to ask the interview subject to answer without torturing them, which is against the code of ethics, but it certainly puts the pressure on them to answer a focused question. It can focus the interview, and it brings the interview to a sharp point, particularly important if you are limited in time. Disadvantages, though. It can intimidate people and put people on the defensive. It limits what you'll hear to what you already know about. And it doesn't allow the subject to take control. Most interviews include both kinds of these questions. But naturally a collaborative interview might towards more open questions since you're trying to give the subject enough space to open up. Whereas an adversarial interview might tend more to closed questions. Now, no question also has advantages and disadvantages and let me run through some of the things which might be called a no question response. Never underestimate the power of silence. There's very little silence in most conversations in Western cultures. Which means that most people are extremely uncomfortable with it. Let me demonstrate. Now that was quite a short pause. Maybe you used it productively. But if you were just watching me there, you would have felt the pressure rise, and I certainly did. Somebody feels the pressure to leap in there and add some words. Now silence can be useful if you think that there is more to say, your interview subject hasn't told you everything. Just leave a beat or two of silence. Between the end of their answer and the next question. You might like to try that one out on your friends as well. We actually constantly interrupt each other in normal conversation. Leaving a little bit of silence at the end of the other person speaking can be very powerful indeed. It can be particularly useful if you think you've just been lied to, or told a partial truth. Silence is uncomfortable. Silence for somebody who knows that they are lying, or telling less than the whole truth can be intensely uncomfortable. So don't, ignore silence. Quite often journalists discover this by accident, because they're busy taking notes, or are feeling self conscious about thinking for the next question. But in most cases silence is your friend in an interview scenario. As we've already discussed, no question could also include a remark or a comment, and it could include an exclamation - Really? Honestly, you expect me to believe that? Things of that sort. And sometimes it can also include repeating back the substance of what the person has just said. So am I correct in thinking that what you're saying is blah? And this also gives the person obviously the chance to correct any misunderstandings that you may have fallen into. So no question can build empathy. It can provoke the subject to say things they didn't intend to say. It can sometimes be the most powerful question of all. Now one of the keys to good interviewing is preparation. Journalists almost never have the time to prepare as well as they should, and as well as they would like. Sometimes people become available at short notice and you have to rush. But the Internet and Google make some basic preparation relatively easy. Take the time to read what you can and think about what needs to be asked. Don't write down whole questions but do write down phrases or topic headings, the things which must be answered. Make sure you get the basic facts. Don't be frightened to use your personality but do stretch yourself. Think of it as like singing. We can all sing under the shower, or on our own in a car, but a trained singer works at expanding their range and increasing the precision of their voice. That's what a trained interviewer does too. You expand your range, increasing the number of things you can do through an interview. And a word about preparation. Dress and present appropriately. That doesn't mean being false or pretending to be someone you're not. It just means, just as you dress differently on the weekend to watch a movie at home to what you would go to work on a Monday morning, think about what's appropriate for the interview situation. Minimise the barriers. So that's all very well, but of course, it's much more complicated than that. We're now going to watch some interviews. After each one, there will be a few questions for you to consider and answer and discuss in the discussion group. Most importantly, listen carefully. And if you like, take notes, because this week's assessable task is another news writing exercise. Your readers are wanting to find out the latest on the Futopia development story. We want you to write an update using the new information and quotes that emerges from the interviews. So most importantly of all, and this really is the heart of interviewing, listen.