Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Minor journo rant

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.


Shayne said...

Some people just need their ego's stroked - sad but true.

And I'd LOVE to know who you write for - and do you write under your own name?

Please do tell!

Cam said...

Some people are so self-righteous!

Does it have Skype?

Caz said...

oh no that is painful!

cat said...

Think green people! And time efficient. I get you girl.

Tamara said...

Shayne: Hehe... I'll mail you some details if you're really interested.

Cam: I don't have Skype, unfortunately. I should fix that.

Caz: Yay! So nice to see you here! A comment from Caz is a definite reason to smile :-)

Tamara said...

Cat: Exactly! I'm seriously considering telling them it's against my environmental policy ;-)

po said...

Heehee. Just say your car got stolen or something?

Shayne said...

I would really love to know :)

DBAWIW (AKA Can) said...

I like that a Cam, Caz and Cat commented in that specific order. I'm changing my name to Can. It'll also help on those down days, when I start repeating, ad nauseum, "I think I Can, I think I'm Can, I think I Can, I think I'm Can."

Seriously, though, you are quite bloody right.

Angel said...

I suppose it doesn't feel like they're being "interviewed" when its done over the phone?