The following is an assignment to interview a journalist about interviewing. It is posted as part of my course Journalism Reimagined.
I had the privilege of speaking to Ms Leong Siok Hui, a journalist with The Star, Malaysia’s largest English-language newspaper and a Fellow at the Asian Journalism Foundation. On the cab from Changi Airport to her place of residence, she quickly shared her interviewing tips:
Setting-Up/What to Do Before The Interview
Always prepare for interviews. Search archives to see what has been covered before, and to understand the issue better. Decide on the objective of your article, and the target audience.
Getting the Best/Most Information
Being well prepared is key. At the same time, you have to think quickly on the spot, asking more questions or prompting further elaboration on certain interesting things mentioned.
Dealing with Reluctant People
Don’t go straight into the questions. Instead, start with small chat and the easy questions. For eg, what do they do in their jobs. This will give you background information about demographics etc.
What *Not* to Do Before or During an Interview
Not to prepare. Also, always be punctual for interviews. It reflects on your professionalism.
One Funny/Memorable Interviewing Story
Interviewing movie director Ekachai Uekrongtham, whose latest movie “Wedding of the Year” features Fann Wong and Christopher Lee. Other than information for the article, he shared with me his personal philosophy and way of living. That’s what I like about journalism. You learn something new every time.
A Tip on Note-Taking or Tape Recording
I always bring along a tape recorder. There will be one day when someone will say ‘hey I didn’t say that’, and having a tape recorder helps. I don’t transcribe the whole interview though, only the main points and the best quotes.