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Journalism: Tips for better interviews

Margot Lester's badge from the National High School Journalism Convention

Getting sources to talk for journalistic interviews is a perennial issue, whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out. It's certainly among the most prevalent issues I'm asked about by young journalists, which is why I debuted a new session at the Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco.

I made a list of the tactics I use to get people to open up and give useful responses, surveyed some colleagues for their advice, and looked at what some other pros had to say on the matter. My small group of experts was:

I also included some terrific advice from the inimitable Gwen Ifill.

Turns out, we all agree on the same set of interviewing "magic beans":

  • Establish empathy
  • Give sources a reason to participate
  • Show you care
  • Do your research
  • Ask better questions

Flip through the presentation to learn more about each technique. Share the deck with new reporters in your newsroom, or writers new to brand journalism and content marketing.

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