When I write a magzine story, it generally requires a couple of interviews. I quite enjoy interviews. I always learn something new. Unless the interviewee is completely useless, which thankfully doesn't happen very often.
I need to explain something though: If my story is 2000 words long and I'm interviewing four people, it means that I have at most 500 words per interview. That's one typed page in MS Word. Given that I need to actually write an introduction and conclusion to the article, it's usually closer to 400 words.
Currently, I'm writing a 2000-word story and interviewing six people. So that's around 330 words (maximum) per person. That's the equivalent of three paragraphs. I have learnt that it's pointless sending an interviewee a list of 15 probing questions if I only have three paragraphs to write about their answers. So I will send a list of five questions, the first one being full name and designation. And when I interviewee the person, it will generally take me about 20 minutes to go through those questions. Even then, I will have to distill the most important facts from the surplus information into three paragraphs, which is enormously challenging, especially when the person has lots of useful and interesting info to convey.
But some interviewees... *sigh* They still want me to drive to Pretoria (50km away) for a face-to-face interviewee and spend two hours at their offices chatting to them.
I don't have the time, the petrol or the patience.
Really - it's three paragraphs! When you win the Nobel Peace Prize and I am writing an in-depth profile for Time magazine and being paid mega-bucks for it (in other words, not in the near future), then we can discuss setting aside a whole day for me to record your every word and stroke your ego.
Until then, I really do think a telephonic interview will suffice.