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Interviewing ‘people on the street’ QT43

Posted by on Jan 16, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Four categories of sources exist: experts, authorities, knowledgeable and reactors (sometimes called bozos). The first three should be credible. The last not so much.

Why ask “what do you think about the tax levy?” if the person has no knowledge at all?

If he has little background on the issues but says, “It’s not necessary because our teachers are overpaid already,” it might even hurt the value of the article if, indeed, your teachers are paid less than those in neighboring districts.

Instead, find experts or at least those with some experience — like a recent student who could talk to the lack of places to sit during her lunch period. 

Guideline:

Journalists, print, broadcast and online, need to conduct interviews. In choosing those they talk to, they should consider the knowledge of each carefully, Reactive sources, especially those with little knowledge of the issue, add little to the story and may even confuse the issue.  

Quick Tip

Social media post/question: Person on the street interviews add little and may even create problems. Why not seek more experts?

Stance: Although some student journalism outlets require a certain number of sources in any article — maybe two or three or five — the knowledge of those interviewed makes all the difference in their value. Using person on the street interviews often has little value and can be misleading. What reporters need are interviewees with at least some experience.

Reasoning/suggestions: Why ask “what do you think about the tax levy?” if the person has no knowledge at all? If he has little background on the issues but says, “It’s not necessary because our teachers are overpaid already,” it might even hurt the value of the article if, indeed, your teachers are paid less than those in neighboring districts.

Instead, find some experts or at least ask those with some experience — like a recent student who could talk to the lack of places to sit during her lunch period.

Resources: (Other places that you can find this information)

Has Mike Daisey illustrated how useless ‘man on the street’ interviews are?, Poynter

Do you care what the ‘man on the street’ has to say?, Chicago Tribune

Let’s say goodbye to the man on the street, John Kroll digital

 

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