Session 5: Interviewing

Michaela is out of town, so we had special guests at our meeting this week! Nathan Lawrence and Becky Smith from KBIA, and Rachel Lippmann from St. Louis Public Radio, sat in on our session to teach our reporters about interviewing and to share their experiences. Becky and Rachel reported on Ferguson together this summer, and had a lot of stories to share with us about crime and justice reporting. Our reporters, Mariah especially, asked some great questions. 

To start off our conversation about interviewing, we listened to a short Story Corps episode called Miss Devine about a Sunday school teacher named Lizzie Devine. We talked about how the two interviewees told stories that let us know exactly who Miss Devine was as a person. Instead of saying, "Miss Devine meant business," they said, "Miss Devine made me walk two blocks in my pajamas because she knew I was lying." It's a really sweet story. 

We contrasted Story Corps with “Ferguson Pastor: This is Not a Race Issue; This is a Human Issue” from St. Louis Public Radio. In this piece, the interview is left (more or less) in tact, so we could hear the reporter's questions, and hear how she handled some difficult moments. 

We wrapped up by having our reporters pitch their story ideas to Nathan, Becky and Rachel, who gave them feedback. Then Nathan, Becky and Rachel talked about best practices in interviewing. 

This week for homework they're listening to WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts from Fugitive Waves. It's about the first all-girl radio station. They're also reading the Character and Voice chapter from Out on the Wire. Their biggest task is narrowing down their feature story focus sentences. Right now they have topics, but not stories. We're hoping by Friday we'll have a bit more direction on the story front.