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Reaching Out

If you are not conducting interviews for your JSR articles, then you are doing them wrong. This program isn't just for writing -- you are expected to be a journalist and reach out for interviews. Without those, you won't be published! 


A key difference between journalistic work and research papers is that journalistic work requires original reporting, whereas research can be culled from existing sources. Research is crucial to journalism, but "original reporting" also requires talking to people and reporting what they say.


Reaching out for interviews can be hard. Especially for high school students, it can be intimidating to pick up the phone and call someone important. Likewise, it can be discouraging to reach out and to not receive a response. But whether it's intimidating or not, you've got to do it. You won't make it as a journalist if you're afraid to contact sources, but this skill goes beyond journalism: once you've graduated from college, you'll have to create your own career opportunities by reaching out to people you don't know and selling yourself to them. Learning how to do that now will benefit you immensely.



These are some guidelines for how to interview well: 


Talk to people who have something to say.  Interview people who have a specific connection to your story. These can be people who are involved with the story, or they can be people who have a particular reason to care. For example, you might ask your school's AP Government teacher for her opinion about a Supreme Court ruling, or you might ask your high school's LiNK president for his opinion if you're writing a story about an atrocity in North Korea.


Don't just ask randoms.


Don't just talk to your friends. It's not reaching out if you only talk to people you know. Use your friends when they have relevant perspectives to add to the story, but try to include more voices.


Properly identify your interviewees. Get the person’s first and last name, grade level (if student), name of school, and age. Get his/her title or affiliation if appropriate, such as “math teacher,” or “math student, cheerleader, trumpet player,” etc.


You may only use anonymous sources if your source has a specific and good reason to remain anonymous and you need that source specifically to complete your story.


Prepare. If you coordinate an interview with someone, do not go to it empty-handed. Research the person online, visit her website if she has one, and see if you can find writings or other interviews that she has done. Use these resources to craft specific questions.


If you are doing a personal profile, you must include an interview with the person being profiled.


If you are reviewing an event, do not merely write about the event or program (what it was, how long it was, etc). Ask people who were there to describe it, and ask participants to tell you about the process of putting it on.

How To Interview


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