Interviewing tips

The following was taken from Al’s Morning Meeting on Poynter for May 3, 2007.  It offers an alternative to the “How do you feel” question that serves so poorly after a disaster. For the entire column, go here

“It has been such a treat this week to lead a Poynter seminar for public-radio reporters. One of our guest faculty members is National Public Radio’s Audie Cornish ( , who often covers big disasters like the aftermath of Katrina, Alabama tornadoes and such. One of her goals is to get close to people in time of trauma. She offered our group some alternatives to the “how does it feel” question.On her list was:

    What happened?    What happens next?
    What did you do?
    What do you make of this?
    How do you explain what has happened to other people?
    When it first happened, what did you think — and what do you think now?
    What surprised you about how others reacted?
    What are you worried about?
    What are you telling your children/family?
    What does this make you think about your own community?
    Why do you still live here?

Audie also handed out a useful tip sheet on how to write with “active sound.” I think the tips are so useful not just for radio folks but for anybody attempting multimedia storytelling.

Click here for a PDF copy
of the handout we used in our seminar.”


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