An alternate taxonomy of the interview

An alternate taxonomy of the interview

I recently participated in a workshop for scientists about talking to the media, led by Nancy Baron, who has written a smart book on the subject. It got me thinking about how mysterious the media can be for people who haven’t interacted with us much. One thing we don’t always make clear to people is just what kind of interview we’re asking for. Which can make a difference in how someone will prepare, and what they can expect to come of it. The most obvious taxonomy of an interview is by media line: print, radio, TV. And that has merit. It can help you decide, for example, whether to put on a tie, or brush your hair. It will also determine whether an interview over the phone might be enough (print, radio) or likely won’t be (TV). But, here’s another way of looking at it. Conversation vs. quote After the split between print and broadcast, I think the next most important difference is not between TV and radio, but between two types of broadcast interviews: the conversation vs. the quote. [Note, these are my labels, not standard industry labels. They’re both called interviews, but I’m trying to make a distinction.] The biggest difference for the interviewee is how quickly and clearly they need to make their point(s). Conversation In the conversation, where the interview airs as an interview (either live, live-to-tape, or edited down) people will hear more of what you have to say. A typical current-affairs interview one of CBC Radio’s local shows (e.g. The Early Edition) is 5 minutes. So, there is room for a (short) anecdote,...