(Before I get into today’s post, I just want to remind everybody that this challenge is small and made up of only a few people as of now. Make sure you come back here later in the day and check the other links and go read the other posts. Part of the coolness of a challenge is to visit others, read what they wrote and, hopefully leave a comment (yes, even here… it’s not just the spot for the linkup!) I know we can’t force people to do that, but part of a challenge is interacting with others and try and give/receive feedback from fellow participants etc. On with today’s prompt…)
When I worked in newspapers, I rarely used the recorders when doing interviews.
Though many of my cohorts had used them, I always found if I did that, I got lazy. How? I’d rely too much on the recorder and my mind could drift, thus making it easier for me to forget a question or not follow up. It also allows the person you are interviewing to speak fast and try and get out of there faster.
That isn’t always a good thing.
First, I was a sports writer. Sometimes that meant interviewing somebody on the losing end. Those people aren’t usually up for in-depth chats. So if you have a recorder, they say what they want and bolt. I found if I had the old pen and paper, they’d sometimes wait longer as they want to make sure you got what they said correct.
So pen and paper it was.
There’s nothing like the old-fashioned long and skinny reporter’s notebook. I could go through them extremely fast with how my chicken scratch would fill up a page.
You know how they say doctors have awful hand writing? People obviously never saw what I did when out covering a game or working on a story.
But there is one big reason why I did interviews the old-fashioned way.
Think about it. You are covering a game. It gets done late. You interview people with a recorder and get out of there. You’re back to the office and have to write the story. Then you have to go through the recorder and dictate everything so you can get the quotes you need for the story.
Meanwhile, the deadline clock is ticking away.
And when you work at smaller papers, you usually have to do other things. Maybe you need to lay out a page or pull some things off the wire, or write some briefs.
It doesn’t end with one story usually.
So you’re tapping away and you have earphones on and all that good stuff – and time is ticking away.
For me, it became too much.
Back to pen and paper.
It made it easier for me. Back in the office, I’d be writing and I’d know where the comment I wanted was. Why? Because I didn’t always write down the “blah blah blah” stuff that went beyond the answer to the question I asked.
Yes, people tend to ramble when being interviewed.
It makes you get what you are looking for. It makes you concentrate on the answers you are seeking. You learn to take more detailed notes in smaller spaces. And you get what you need and can be off. I also truly think it makes you a better reporter/journalist.
It cut down on my writing times a lot as I didn’t have to listen back to 10-15 minutes worth of interviews. Instead, I used that time to write, re-read, fix anything and send along to the editor.
Pen and paper is the way to go. I still believe it and will always look at things that way. It’s the only way as far as I’m concerned.
At least in newspapers.
This post is part of the 20 Days of Chill Writing Challenge hosted by A ‘lil HooHaa. Please check out the link if you’d like to see others or join in. You don’t have to do every theme if you don’t want! And for those participating, take a moment and check out the other participants! You can see the 2016 themes by clicking here.
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