Newspaper interviews are used as the basis for crafting news articles about current events, interesting or unusual topics or delving into areas of human interest. Conducting a newspaper interview involves framing an article topic, gathering pertinent details and quoting reputable sources.
Schedule the Interview
Interviewing a newsmaker, public official or company spokesperson requires preparation. Call the interview subject directly or contact the person’s publicity contact or administrative assistant to schedule an interview time. You may conduct the interview in person, via phone or by Skype. Set aside as much time as you think you’ll need to gather the information you seek.
Do Your Research
Conduct background research so you can talk intelligently with the interviewee and ask key questions. For example, if you’re interviewing a CEO about corporate earnings, read through an annual report in advance. If you’re interviewing an elected official about a piece of proposed legislation, request background information from both sides of the issue to help you form articulate questions.
Select a quiet location for your interview. Be prepared with a laptop, tablet, pen and paper or a tape recorder to ensure you gather information accurately. Always let an interview subject know if you are using a recording device and how and when she should stipulate what information is off the record.
Write Out Your Questions
Make a list of the questions you want to ask before your interview. Don’t be so married to your list that you fail to ask follow-up questions based on responses. Use open-ended questions that encourage your subject to elaborate rather than queries that can be answered with a yes or no response. If your subject is resistant, ask leading questions such as “Can you elaborate on that point?” or “Can you explain to me how that works?” Remember to tailor your interview questions to your reading audience.
Confirm Pertinent Details
At the conclusion of your interview, confirm key details, such as the spelling of the subject’s name and his title. If there are facts or figures you’re fuzzy on, ask for confirmation. For example, “Just to confirm, the expansion of your facility will allow you to add 100 new jobs, correct?” Request collateral information, such as a biography or a corporate overview, to use as a reference when drafting your article.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.