Sarah Booker


Interviews take preparation, even the experts are thrown by blatant lies

Today’s big news story is the blatant lie by Kellyanne Conway during an interview on US television, when she created the Bowling Green Massacre.

Apparently it wasn’t covered.

Seriously, a terrorist attack not covered by news organisations? I think not.

Watching the interview online, it is clear MSNBCs Chris Matthews is flustered by this fairytale.

When he should have said “Please elaborate”, he didn’t. 

Maybe he didn’t want to look foolish on live television. 

Who can blame him for being thrown off his game when faced with a blatant lie.

Apparently she meant to say Bowling Green terrorists. A duo who never planned an attack on US soil!

The key thing trainees should take from this is never be afraid to ask something outside your plan. 
Prepare and listen are key when interviewing.

Prepare your questions in advance, have an idea of where you’re going and want to go.

However, listen for the cues telling you the story is going in a different direction.

Listen to what the interviewee says and question and ask them to expand on information you don’t know.

It’s better to get it right than keep quiet for fear of looking foolish.

For the past 18 months I’ve moderated on and been interviewed by junior reporters taking their NQJ senior journalist exams.

There are times when a look of panic crosses their face as they realise I’ve given them something and they need to go off piste.

Some hold on to their list of questions for dear life. 

Those who pass spot the cue and follow the new line. 

They get all the information and the keys to a great story.



Multimedia: Audio slide shows at News:Rewired

Multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook’s work blew me away at News:Rewired.

I have never really paid much attention to audio slide shows. Building slide shows is a regular part of my working week, but Adam’s interview with John Hirst is unlike anything I have thought possible.

Watch it here: Hirst v. UK from Adam Westbrook on Vimeo

Describing himself as “passionate about the audio slide show” Adam explained how this medium can often tell a story better than any video, with minimal equipment.

“Really rich audio mixed with strong photographs is potent,” he told us.

The story behind the John Hirst slide show started with a video which “wasn’t strong enough”. Good photographs and the audio from the interview was not only cheaper, it was also quicker.

What do you need according to Adam?

  • A great story/character. Work well with portraits.
  • Prospects for good photographs.
  • Potential for great audio with other great atmospheric  sounds such as water sounds or street sounds to give the slide show space to breath.
  • An audio recorder, Digital SLR and Soundslides to build it.

The New York Times One in 8 Million series was given as an example of excellence in the audio slide show.

Characters are found and pre-interviewed. An audio producer records the interview, only then does the photographer take photographs after listening to the audio.

Once everything is put together the images match the words.

It’s so simple and something I would like to use on the websites I am responsible for. However simple creating these things is, a limited number of reporters and hard-pressed photographers may make this difficult in practice.