Part of obtaining a fruitful interview is creating a list of questions that will yield useful information. A good question list also helps the interviewee get a sense of the logic of the interview, because questions follow logically from each other—and when they don’t, the reporter provides a transition to guide the interview. Practice creating a question list by working through the following prompts:
a. Edit the list of 25 questions below down to 15 questions, and articulate why you chose to omit the questions that you did.
b. Edit the content of the remaining questions, if necessary—for example, to rephrase a leading question.
c. Group related questions together by theme.
d. Place the groups in the order you’d address them in your interview.
e. Within each group, arrange questions in the order you’d ask them in the interview.
f. Create a transition to place between each group of questions, if necessary, to provide your interviewee some guidance as you switch topics.
g. Below your list, write down any other questions you’d want to ask.
The scenario is that a local non-profit organization is holding a fundraiser called “Steampunk Saturday,” which they’ve advertised as a day-long festival with a steampunk theme. You’ve been assigned to check out whether there are any steampunk aficionados on campus in the hopes that they could help people understand steampunk and decide whether they'd like to go to the festival. You find there’s a student club, and you have an interview with Dee Boudreaux, the club president.
Consider the scenario in Exercise W9-1.
a. Based on what you've learned in class so far, is there a newsworthy story here? If so, what is it? Why is it newsworthy?
b. In terms of ethical professional practice, are there concerns in the scenario about providing free advertising to either of the groups? Explain your assessment of the situation.
For each human source you interview, answer the prompts below.
a. Source name, title, business affiliation, phone number, email
b. Time, date and place of the interview
c. Why did you choose this source for your story?
d. How is this source credible?
e. What are two steps you took to prepare for the interview?
f. Which of your questions were most effective, if any? Least effective, if any?
g. What did you learn about interviewing, if anything?
h. Summarize what information you gleaned from the interview that you can use in your story.
For each of the following scenarios, write a paragraph or two that assesses the possibility that it would be an invasion of privacy.
a. A staffer is reporting on the atmosphere for GLBT students on campus. He interviews a woman he knows identifies as a lesbian. He fully identifies her in his story, and he quotes her twice. The editors run a last check to make sure all of the people in the story know they are going to be included and named in the story. The source says that she has to be taken out of the story because her family doesn’t know she’s a lesbian.
b. A staffer is doing a story on the cost of parking locally, and she snaps a photo of a city meter-reader writing a citation for a vehicle. The meter-reader sees her and approaches her, saying that she cannot use the photo, and demanding that the staffer delete the photo right then and there.
c. A staffer has an interview with one of the school’s deans to talk about the controversial decision to cut an academic major. Thinking that the dean will be reluctant to talk openly if recorded, the staffer thinks it’s a good idea to record the interview, which will take place in the dean’s office, but to hide the recorder so the dean can’t see it.
d. A staffer is doing a story on drinking on campus by students younger than 21 years old. In the course of doing background research, he finds social media photos of one student guzzling beer at a local pub. According to information on the social media site, the student is 18 years old. The staffer argues that because the photo was public on the social media site, he’s free to use the photo and the name of the student in the story.
1. What is steampunk?
2. Are you currently a junior in theater?
3. What do you plan to do with your degree once you graduate?
4. Please confirm that your name is spelled Dee Boudreaux.
5. I see from your social media that you are an avid fan of steampunk fiction. Is that correct?
6. How offensive is it to you that “Steampunk Saturday” is even being held?
7. Based on my research, steampunk fiction—and fashion and culture—blends retro, steam-powered machinery with 19th-century sensibilities in a post-apocalyptic setting. How would you modify that description?
8. If you were to pick two or three things about steampunk that would be most interesting for the lay person to know, what would you include?
9. Do all steampunk fans dress up in costumes? All of the time or only on certain occasions or in certain settings?
10. When do you graduate?
11. Can you describe the emotional connection you have to steampunk?
12. When and where were you born?
13. Who else should I talk to about steampunk?
14. Why are the costumes for women so sexualized and exhibitionist?
15. Do you have brothers and sisters?
16. What first attracted you to steampunk?
17. It seems like people who are into steampunk are kind of cliquish?
18. How do you make a steampunk-style outfit?
19. What’s the first thing you’d teach a newbie about the steampunk world? The second? A third?
20. What steampunk-themed book would you recommend to the campus book club? What’s it about? Why would you select that one?
21. Where is the best place for students on a budget to find clothes to dress up?
22. What are some of your other hobbies?
23. Are there any other questions I should have asked that I didn’t?
24. In my research, I’ve found that there are several social media sites for steampunk fans. Which are the most respected, if any, in the community?
25. I’d like to know what the Steampunk Club does when it meets. Do you make costumes, for example?