This week we covered how you conduct interviews to get all the details that make nonfiction read like fiction in my online feature writing class:
There’s a relatively famous study where subjects are shown a series of pictures of dorm rooms and then shown head shots of the person who lives in each of that room. They’re photos of places the study subjects have never been and they’re portraits of people they have never met, and they’re shown the photos in random order.
And then they’re asked to match the photo of the person with the room in which they live.
You may think it’s random, but the study has shown that people can make the correct matches with an uncanny degree of accuracy: in most cases, in excess of 80 percent. It has something to do with our instinct to assess and read other people, and it’s a crucial lesson about human interaction.
If you were on the discussion boards last week, you know I was stressing that you should always make every effort to conduct interviews in person – at one point I said I’d rather you conduct a 10-minute interview in person than a 60-minute interview on the phone. If you have that study in mind you will start to have an idea of why I think in-person interviews are so important, particularly when it comes to feature writing.
Sept. 20: Reporting Basics — Interviewing