Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Handling Interviews

Jessica Faust at Bookends posted today about how interviews can go wrong. From my own experience, I agree that the worst problem is quotes taken out of context. Sometimes this is done deliberately by the reporter to slant the article a certain way, but other times the out-of-context quote makes you look bad even though that wasn't the reporter's specific intent. Another problem I noticed at some interviews is that the reporter only wrote down "reminder words" when talking with me and then essentially made up quotes based on what he remembered based on this information. To combat this problem, I started having reporters send me their questions over e-mail so they would have a written copy of my responses. That helps a lot, but won't work in every situation.

In the comments section of Jessica's interview post, Jenny said:

Back when I was promoting my books in the media someone taught me a helpful technique that really improves interviews: do the interview but bring along a page of basic information that includes a couple well-written paragraphs that say whatever it is that you would like to see in print. Give it to the journalist at the end of the interview.

Journalists are busy and love to have their work done for them. When I used that technique quite a few hour long interviews resulted in a newspaper article that contained nothing but the text of the paragraphs I'd supplied to the interviewer.

Jenny's advice sounds pretty good to me. Most of the people reading this blog probably don't have to deal with this problem very often, but it's something to keep in mind on that day when you are asked for an interview!

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