Do you have anything else to add?
One of my favorite things about being a journalist is by far having the opportunity to interview some amazing and interesting people. Whether it be on camera, through a microphone connected to my phone, or just good ol' fashioned pencil and paper, I absolutely adore it.
I can write the basic facts of a story, or the searchable content of a credible online bio, but none of it will offer color and emotion like a good quote from an interview will.
When I tell people I'm a journalist, I often get looks. These normally come from those highly involved, or so they like to believe, in politics. If they're far left, they think I'm scheming against them. If I'm far right, it's the same ordeal.
I'm not too surprised. The "fake news" spread across the nation has become tiring for credible and ethical journalists and the general public alike. What those politicians tend to see me as is a reporter for the competing broadcast station. They think I offer my opinions about the democratic or republican agenda.
My peers and I could not find this any more false.
It's been drilled into our heads that a good reporter does not take sides, no matter what the topic may be. Remain unbiased, do not accept gifts, do not make promises.
But that is besides the point. I'm getting off track.
Since news reporting tends to be a little bland sometimes (insert a fact here, a statistic here, and end it with an informational statement), it's crucial that I have the opinions of those far left and far right people to give my piece a bit of pizazz.
Or the experiences. A fire has just torn through a neighborhood. Who is this impacting? Talk to a neighbor, listen to what they have to say. Add that to your story.
In my personal experience, I've had some amazing people talk to me, and others who were camera (or notebook) shy. I've been with journalists who respond to answers with well-thought-out follow-up questions, and others who ask straight-forward yes or no questions (and let me tell you, that is worthy of pulling my hair out).
The highlight of my extensive list of interviews is the following: After the Daily Athenaeum got word that game day crime has gone down since last year, they sent me to talk to a police chief from UPD. She took me into the interview room, I sat down with her, and started with a really simple question: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Typically, teachers tell us to ask a question like that when you're setting up a camera so you can test your audio levels, but why should you stop there?
Starting an interview with a conversation, especially when it's about official business, really tends to ease the nerves for them.
At the end of that interview, the police chief smiled and said that I had really made her feel calm and relaxed, and that I was so easy to talk to. This made her feel as if she could tell me anything, and as a journalist, that is what you want: To have the most authentic quotes and information possible.
I also use the same question every time I end an interview: Do you have anything else you'd like to add? Normally, no matter how extensive the interview was, I get one of my best quotes after asking this. It gives them the opportunity to talk about something I may have missed, but even if I didn't, normally their answer is something along the lines of, "Not really, just that..." And there it is; the best quote yet.
When I tell people I'm a journalist, I get the same responses all the time; but in my eyes, a journalist is one of the most important jobs there is. My favorite professor once asked us what the difference between a firefighter, a doctor, a politician, and a journalist. Which of those four had the most important job?
Some might say doctor, obviously. They save lives. And so do firefighters. As for politicians, they are in charge of our government.
But a journalist is just as credible. A journalist can be covering a life-saving operation in the morning, be at the politician's side at their afternoon speech, and arriving at a fire in the early hours of the morning. While everyone else is at their own place of work, a journalist is at all of theirs. A journalist gets to interview all three of those people.
And if I have the opportunity to live out the scenario I wrote above, you can count on the fact that the last question I'll ask is: "Do you have anything else you'd like to add?"