Ever wondered why there are so many interview based articles in newspapers? Why journalists want to make interviews?
As an editor of small publications, I receive mainly articles without interviews from potential contributors. I wonder why. I’ve always preferred an interview as a means to gain knowledge and content for my writing. Yesterday I talked with a fellow journalist, who teaches writing. She had a similar experience. It is very difficult to get non-professional writers to do an interview. But why?
Let me tell you a secret. Journalists love interviews and for a very good reason. It’s easy, quick and interesting – by spending half an hour with an expert of the subject in hand, I’ll have plenty of information to spread to my audience and, in an interesting format in this particular person’s own voice. Not to mention, that the interviewee has basically written the article for me by telling everything I need and want to know. Beats researching any day.
So don’t coward from interviews, they are the absolute best way to do an article. And there are 3 main reasons for this:
Learn from the Interviewee
You can research your subject to infinity, but there’s no better way to learn than to meet the expert herself. If you want to convey to your audience information, emotions or an impressive story, get it straight from the horse’s mouth.
You’ll save plenty of time on research and most often the interviewees will lead you to new information you wasn’t even aware of. While you’re asking questions from your interviewee, you’re not only gathering material for your article, blog or writing in general, but you’re learning about the topic.
Are you afraid you won’t have any questions? Prepare a set before hand, but don’t forget to follow a lead, if the interviewee offers you a gold nugget on a silver plate… I have very seldom been in a situation, where it was difficult to come up with questions. I’m endlessly curious, as most/all journalists are/should be, so asking questions is kind of given. You also get into the mode with some practice. After a decade or so in the job, it is your second nature.
Liven up Your Text
If you’d like to write about e.g. a certain hobby, you can usually find plenty of information on it in the web and in books. However, this information tends to be general in nature and often also a bit outdated at best. What’s more, it might not deal with the specific viewpoint you’re interested in.
Let’s say you want to write about starting to practice parkour as a middle aged woman. All the basic information is certainly available in literature and you can even watch parkour videos in YouTube, but how could you get the feelings and opinions of a middle aged woman about what it was like to begin the hobby? There’s only one way to really know – you have to ask a middle aged woman! (Or try it out yourself, if you happen to be a middle aged woman!)
The voice of real experience will give the writing an element of authenticity, which would be hard to attain otherwise. An interviewee will also tell about the topic in ways and use a vocabulary, which will differ at least a bit from yours. This will bring variety and interest to your story.
Meet the People You’ve Always Wanted to Meet
Perks of being a journalist – it’s an easy way to get to meet interesting people. Sure, it might be a bit of a struggle to get an interview from the Queen Elisabeth on how to maintain a life balance as a career woman, but if your aim’s on a realistic level, it shouldn’t be too difficult. People tend to like talking about themselves and topics they are passionate about. As a writer this gives you a chance to open doors, which would stay closed otherwise.
An interview is the easiest way to get content for an article. So, get out there and interview!