Whether you are a seasoned journalist or a high school cub reporter just starting out, you eventually conduct an interview. Many reporters learn by trial and error what works and what does not. However, there are three tools that reporters use when conducting and documenting interviews for eventual use in a story.
Do Not Underestimate the Pocket Notebook
Many assume that the modern reporter uses only digital technology. This is not so. Seasoned journalists often advise their younger colleagues to make a habit of carrying a pocket-sized notebook at all times. When an idea for a story occurs to you, this low-tech method of getting it down quickly cannot be beaten. Additionally, an interview subject will be put more at ease when they see the reporter writing careful notes of their answers.
Audio Documentation is Still a Must
On the other hand, recording and preserving an audio recording of the entire interview remains vital. Making this record is necessary not only for accuracy, but no less so for possible legal reasons. Some reporters prefer the analog micro-cassette format, but portable digital recorders have grown in popularity among veteran and novice journalists alike. Investing in digital dictation equipment will pay long-term dividends for any working journalist.
Embrace the Cloud
While a pocket notebook can be useful to outline an article, its small size does not lend itself to longer drafts. When incorporating quotes into an article draft, reporters have increasingly used cloud-based word processor applications like Google Drive. Such a service offers a number of advantages. One, notes or drafts-in-progress are safely stored off-site in the cloud, readily accessible by laptop or phone at any time. Second, the service will date and time-stamp drafts, providing a timeline of progress. Finally, editors and colleagues can access these documents, enabling easy collaboration.
Good reporting requires speed and accuracy. Journalists sometimes find themselves conducting interviews off the cuff as news events unfold in real-time. These tools of the trade –some old and some new– empower the reporter to manage and archive interviews easily and effectively for future use.