It's my story: helping care-experienced young people give effective media interviews
Recognising different agendas
It is helpful at this point to start thinking about what makes an interesting interview. Start by focusing on what makes a good interview – from the point of view of the listener or viewer. This will help young people start to think more about the ‘ingredients’ a journalist is looking for when they interview someone on radio or television.
If you are able to do so, ask young people to watch or listen to a particular programme in advance so they can discuss this. If possible encourage them to choose a programme themselves where they know there will be lots of different interviews. Encourage them to pick something which has different styles of interviews – some hard news interviews, some local interest interviews and some celebrity interviews. (Local radio stations can be good for this or they might consider something like BBC 'Breakfast' News.) Alternatively, you may also be able to watch some downloaded clips of interviews on the internet.
Try to have a good discussion about this issue before showing Slide 12 – inevitably people come up with lots of different ideas about what makes a good interview and the points on the slide are by no means the definitive guide.
When you show the slide continue to emphasise that this discussion is focusing on the viewer’s and listener’s point of view. (And journalists are in the business of keeping their listeners happy!)
NB: There are more detailed notes about anecdotes and encouraging listeners to put themselves in someone else’s shoes in later sections.
What makes an interview good to watch or listen to?
Slide 12: sample text:
- lively, interesting and you want to hear more
- sounds natural – like a conversation
- people use anecdotes and examples to illustrate the point
- encourages the listener to use their own imagination and put themselves in someone else’s shoes
- the listener learns new information
- people talk about it in the pub or at the water cooler
A lively, interesting interview on television or radio generates lots of discussion afterwards. A dull interview is likely to be quickly forgotten. The journalist has their own agenda in an interview – and a big part of this is keeping the listeners’ and viewers’ attention.
Why it’s important to recognise agendas
Only when young people recognise that there are different agendas will they be able to understand that:
- interviewers ask questions to get interesting responses. There are no wrong or right answers in most situations, just an opportunity for the person being interviewed to express their opinions and – hopefully – keep the audience listening!
- listening to people agree with each other can be dull and you don’t learn very much. It’s more interesting when people have different points of view
- interviews are very similar to having a discussion with a friend – you won’t always agree but you will continue to make your point and try to respect the other person’s right to their point of view.
Consolidate this learning with Slide 13.
Your agenda will be different from the journalists’
Slide 13: sample text:
- Journalists want stories and interviews that interest their listeners and viewers
- Don’t expect a journalist to see things from your perspective, because they haven’t been in your shoes
- See interviews as an opportunity to challenge people’s thinking
- Arguments are interesting – they don’t make people enemies