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  • Writer's pictureJean Dion

My Top 6 Interview Questions for Reporters

Reporter waiting by the phone

It's never smart to call up a source without a list of questions ready to go. As I mentioned in my last blog, it's critical to prepare for an interview with story-specific questions. However, I have a few evergreen questions I like to ask almost all of my sources.

Evergreen questions often lead to very interesting answers that can take you deeper into a topic. And, many of these questions demonstrate your respect for your sources and their time.

Let's dig into my six favorite interview questions for reporters.

  1. Why is this important for our community? When you're writing for a small, local paper, it's important to help readers understand why you're covering a specific topic. If you can't point out why the topic should matter to them, they won't keep reading. I typically have a good idea about why something is important. But asking the source directly can lead to unexpected answers that can lead me deeper into the topic.

  2. How would you describe <<topic>> to someone who hasn't heard of it before? Whether I'm covering an event, local group, or business, I typically need to provide a thumbail description. I often have a good idea about how to do this, but sometimes, my ideas are totally wrong. Asking the source directly can give me language I can pull and repurpose within the story.

  3. What's a common reaction to <<topic>>? I often use this question when I'm interviewing people for an event-based story. Sometimes, sources will tell me about audiences absolutely loving the action. And sometimes, they tell me about how they don't think they've reached the right audience quite yet. That information can help me tailor my approach.

  4. How have things changed for you since you opened/started? This question often leads to answers about how the local community has shifted. If I'm writing a profile piece about a longstanding business, I can get a lot of the information I need from this one question.

  5. How have things changed for you since the pandemic? Almost every organization has changed in some way since 2020. And many have changed their approach in innovative (and interesting) ways. This question can uncover clever pivots.

  6. Is there anything I haven't discussed that you want people to know about? Some people enter interviews because they want something in return (more volunteers, more tickets sold, more prestige). And sometimes, people have specific motivations I can't uncover without asking directly.

These questions can get your mind working. I hope they help you conduct the perfect interview in the future! And if you're looking for writing help, reach out. I'd love to help.


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