Art of the Interview

People smoking marijuana in Washington Square Park

Some people want to talk and others don’t. You must try your best to get people to talk to you and tell you what you want to know.

All interviews require the same basic skills. You need to prepare. You want to research and find out everything you can about the subject before you ask a question.

Breaking News Challenge

NYFD responds to a fire in Manhattan on April 21, 2021

If you head to a breaking news story, you want to find out whatever facts are available before you get there. When you arrive at the scene of the story, you want to quickly assess the situation and decide who can give you the best information.

You want to pause for a minute or two to think about what you learned and decide who you need to interview.

NYFD at the scene of a fire on April 19, 2021

Then you want to calmly approach the person, introduce yourself and try to make a human connection. That will help you talk to the interview subject and get the best answers.

  1. Remember to ask open-ended questions instead of questions that give you a yes or no answer.
  2. Listen to the answers. Look into the interview subjects’ eyes and pay attention to the cues they give you.
  3. Ask follow-up questions based on their answers.
  4. Remember to be a fellow human being instead of a reporter on a mission.
President Biden discusses his 100 days in office interview with Craig Melvin on MSNBC.

Sit-down Interviews

In a sit-down interview preparation is key. You want to make sure that you know everything about your subject. Celebrities, politicians and athletes will tell you what they want to tell you. So you must think about what you and your readers, viewers or listeners want to know. Look for the unusual, something others haven’t covered before.

 

 

 

Interview Technique

Whether you interview someone in person, via video chat, or phone, the principles for a good interview remain the same.

  1. Prepare before your interview. Make sure you know as much about the topic and your interview subject as possible.
  2. Use your social skills when you begin the interview. Be friendly without being fawning especially if it’s a celebrity. You want to be on relatively equal footing with your interviewee whether it’s a child, a neighbor, a celebrity, or the president.
  3. Be nice even if you are about to ask tough questions. Be polite.
  4. Often interview subjects feed off of your energy. Make sure that you are energetic without being overbearing.
  5. Try not to read from a list of questions.
  6. Get right to it. Make sure you have the correct spelling and pronunciation of the person’s name in advance.
  7. Don’t waste their time with trivial details.
  8. Make eye contact.
  9. Ask your question and listen to the answer. Listening is really important. The interview subject may say something that needs an immediate followup. She may have given you the answer for the tenth question you have in mind but haven’t asked yet.
  10. You may have to interrupt if the person goes on and on and doesn’t answer the question. Keep the interview in your control. Be firm. But stay pleasant.
  11. Quit when you understand that the interview subject has answered your questions and really has nothing else that is relevant to say.

 

 

 

Law and What You Need to Know

  1. Arrest

Agencies

New York City Police Department

  1. Report
    1. The victim of a crime files a complaint report with the police.
      1. Depending on where the crime occurred, you may report the crime to agencies such as the MTA police, State Police, or Port Authority Police. Otherwise, contact your local precinct as soon as possible.
      2. Locate the nearest precinct to you.
    For any crime in progress, please call 911 immediately. If possible, provide an exact location and details of the crime to the dispatcher.
  2. Investigation
    1. Once the NYPD has received the complaint report, an investigation may be conducted to gather more information.
    2. Investigations may include, but are not limited to:
      1. Looking for a suspect
      2. Collecting evidence
      3. Interviewing witnesses
    If you have any questions about the status of your case, please call the precinct that took your complaint report.
  3. Arrest
    1. An arrest will be made if a suspect is identified and there is probable cause to believe the suspect committed the crime. When a suspect is arrested he/she may be searched, transported to the precinct, and in some cases fingerprinted, and photographed at the precinct.
    2. For certain offenses, the suspect might not be brought directly to court from the precinct. If eligible, a Desk Appearance Ticket (D.A.T.) may be issued, requiring the individual to appear in court at a future date to answer the charges against him/her. Eligibility will generally be dependent, in part, by having photographic identification.
    3. District Attorney’s Office
      1. After an officer makes an arrest, he/she will present information about the case to the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office will then determine whether to file charges against the suspect.
      2. If the District Attorney’s Office decides not to file charges, the suspect will be released.
      If you have any questions regarding a case where you were a victim, once it has been referred by the police to the District Attorney’s office, please contact the Assistant District Attorney (A.D.A.) assigned to your case.
    4. Filing Charges
      1. If the District Attorney’s Office decides to file charges against a suspect, the charges will be presented in front of a judge for an arraignment.
      2. Please note that although the District Attorney’s Office will handle your case, they prosecute on behalf of the State of New York in Criminal Court or Supreme Court, not on behalf of individuals.
    5. Defense Attorney
      1. All suspects being charged with a crime have the right to be represented by an attorney.
      2. The suspect can hire an attorney, or if he/she cannot afford an attorney, the court will provide one.
      3. Suspects’ Defense Attorneys sometimes contact victims about their case. [You] do not have to talk to defense attorneys or their investigators and [you] are encouraged to contact the prosecutor if [you] have any concerns about such requests.
    6. Arraignment After the Arrest
      1. After the arrest, the defendant is taken before a judge of the Criminal Court of the City of New York for an arraignment.
      2. At this time, the defendant can plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against him/her. If a defendant pleads guilty, the court may impose a sentence immediately, or set a future court date for that purpose.
      3. Upon or after arraignment, the court may issue an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD), which postpones or “adjourns” the case to a later date. Obtaining an ACD does not mean the defendant didn’t commit the crime. There are usually conditions placed upon the ACD which the defendant must comply with prior to the case being dismissed, such as not engaging in any illegal activity or participating in a relevant program. An ACD does not require the defendant to admit his or her guilt. However, if the defendant does not meet all of the conditions put in place by the court, the case goes back before the judge to be adjudicated.
      4. An Order of Protection may be issued at this time at the request of the Assistant District Attorney.
    7. Bail
      1. Depending on a number of factors, a defendant may go to jail, may receive bail or may be released on his/her own recognizance while the case is pending.
        1. If a defendant cannot post bail, he/she will be detained in jail.
        2. Defendants who can post bail or are released on their own recognizance will be given a date to appear in court. Failure to appear at this court date will result in a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest.
    8. Grand Jury (Felony cases only)
      1. The Assistant District Attorney (A.D.A.) presents the evidence against the defendant to the grand jury. The defendant may also testify before the grand jury.
      2. The grand jury then decides if there is enough evidence to bring the case to trial.
        1. If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence, an indictment is issued.
    9. Arraignment on Indictment (Felony cases only)
      1. After the indictment, the defendant is arraigned in the New York City Criminal Court.
      2. At this time, with the assistance of a defense attorney, the defendant may enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges against him/her.
      3. The judge has the right to accept or reject a guilty plea that is submitted by the defendant.
        1. If the guilty plea is accepted, there is no trial and the defendant will be sentenced. Sentencing can be right away or set for a later court date.
      4. If the defendant pleads not guilty, a date will be set for a trial.
      5. At this time, a temporary Order of Protection may be issued at the request of the Assistant District Attorney, which will be in place while the case is pending. And a final order will be issued upon a plea or conviction.

https://nycourts.gov/courthelp/GoingToCourt/glossary.shtml

Writing exercise

You will not be graded on this.

Reorganize the facts here and write an inverted pyramid or pyramid lede. Make sure you have a nut graf. That’s the paragraph that tells us what the story is about and where it is going.

Make sure you write in the active voice and feel free to change sentences.

The story starts here:

Since May more than 11,000 immigrants have entered New York City’s shelter system.

Mayor Adams said the shelter system is near the breaking point.

José Aponte got off the a bus at the Port Authority and look around dazed.

At least nine busloads arrived from the Texas border to the Port Authority by mid-afternoon on Sunday, one bus more than last week’s previous apparent record of eight in a single day.

Typically, between 40 and 50 migrants are on each bus before they are dropped off and assisted by the city and non-profits.

Sunday’s record bus number comes as Texas officials angry over President Biden’s border policies have been ramping up the amount of migrants they’ve been transporting to “progressive” cities such as New York.

On Friday, an aid worker at the Port Authority said, “Before, it used to be one or two [buses] a day, three days a week.

Mayor Adams said, “It’s outrageous that he governor of Texas is sending people to New York, but we will find places for them to stay.”

Some immigrants have relatives in other cities and immigrant advocacy groups are working to help them connect. Carlos Sosa said, “We are trying to find people who can help those arriving including relatives in other cities.

José Aponte said in Spanish, “I left everything in Venezuela to make a new life here for me and my family. I hope that I can stay. I am willing to work at any job. I just need a chance.”

Immigrant advocates say that the Adams administration is not doing enough to help.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Sunday that Republican governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida have created a “humanitarian crisis” by sending migrants from the U.S.–Mexico border up north.

Abbott began busing migrants from Texas to New York City and Washington, D.C., in the spring. DeSantis sent 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last week.


Adams called on the governors to coordinate with the federal government and the blue states where they are sending migrants.

Abbott began busing migrants from Texas to New York City and Washington, D.C., in the spring. DeSantis sent 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last week.

Adams argued that it is an easier transition for migrants when they have sponsors.

“We have Venezuelan communities in America, let’s coordinate in that fashion like we’ve done with other large communities we have in New York City where we’re able to coordinate, get sponsors, work with our non-government organizations,” Mayor Adams said. “That is what crisis calls for — it calls for coordination.”

Write these paragraphs in the active voice. You can change the sentences completely, but make sure that you convey the intended story or idea.

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Emergency repairs on a crumbling section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway will mean closing most of the busy highway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street during three weekends and an unspecified number of nights between March and October of 2023.

From Complex News:

By now, you’ve likely heard the NBA pregame tunnel be compared to a fashion runway. Sure, it’s become a bit of a cliché when it comes to discussing the relationship between basketball and fashion and it’s probably hard to find many similarities between the Oratoire du Louvre and the inner workings of Capital One Arena, but the point is hard to argue when you see some of the eye-catching looks being shown off across an 82-game season. And one of the NBA pregame tunnel’s most talked-about models is Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma. 

From Jezebel:

As Britain continues to mourn their late monarch Queen Elizabeth II—and grapple with her, er, complicated legacy—two women have reportedly been sexually assaulted while standing in a now 24-hours-long line to pay their respects, according to the Mirror UK.

After declaring an official, last-minute bank holiday for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, UK citizens were invited to view Lizzie’s coffin at Westminster Hall, on display until the funeral procession begins. But as thousands of mourners waited in the queue at Victoria Tower Gardens on Wednesday night, 19-year-old Adio Adeshine allegedly took the opportunity to expose himself and press his genitals against at least two women from behind.

From Bleacher Report:

The Golden State Warriors don’t want to envision a scenario in which Draymond Green suits up for another team.

Green can opt out of the final year of his deal and hit free agency in 2023. Speaking with The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami, Warriors general manager Bob Myers said the four-time All-Star is “not a guy we look at and say he’s not going to be around.”

From the New York Daily News:

At least three people were killed Saturday when two small planes collided mid-air over Boulder County, Colo.

A single-engine Cessna 172 and a Sonex Xenos crashed into each other in flight near Vance Brand Airport in Longmon just before 9 a.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Writing an Op-Ed Opinion Piece

from the Washington Post

What is an op-ed?

An op-ed is an opinion piece by a guest writer that makes a clear argument about a topic usually (but not always) in the news. The name is derived from the traditional placement of these pieces opposite the editorial page of the printed newspaper.

Op-eds should be focused: 750 to 800 words is ideal. Op-eds can incorporate charts, photos, audio or even comics.

What is not an op-ed?

Return to menu

Personal essays that do not make an argument are generally not op-eds. Even if the op-ed includes a personal story, it should have a point to make — something readers can engage with and think about.

Journalistic investigations without an argument are not op-eds. Poems and works of fiction usually are not op-eds either. Neither are reviews of books, movies, television shows or other media. We only rarely accept op-eds that are written as open letters.

  • Help people more deeply understand a topic in the news.
  • Help them understand what it means for them.
  • Equip them with arguments they can employ when talking about the subject.
  • Elevate ideas that help them think about the world differently.
  • Expose them to topics they might not have heard about.
  • Help them better articulate their own perspective.
  • Help them understand perspectives different from their own.

Timing is to an op-ed as location is to real estate, especially if you are writing on a breaking-news topic. That means an op-ed submitted on the day after an event will have an advantage over one submitted a week later, when the conversation has slowed.

Not every op-ed will be about the news of the day, but it should always have an original angle — something readers might not have thought of before and will find interesting.

Your op-ed can be about any topic in the news and does not need to reference a specific Washington Post article.

Should I include supporting documentation for fact-checking?

Return to menu

Yes, this can be included in the comments field of this form, or after a piece is accepted. Supporting documents and citations are very helpful during the editing process.

How should I structure my op-ed?

The format of your op-ed helps the reader understand your argument. Here is a classic structure that does this effectively:

  • Statement of thesis or problem
  • Three reasons this argument is right or wrong
  • Conclusion

There are many other ways of presenting ideas that work, but any successful op-ed needs structure and a logical flow that makes the reader’s life easier, not harder.

What is a lede (also known as a lead)?

A lede (rhymes with “deed”) is the opening sentence or sentences of your op-ed, and it is very important.

A good lede will draw in readers and persuade them to keep reading. It can be your thesis, but it does not have to be. In any event, make sure to get to the crux of your argument fast — that means in the first couple of paragraphs. Remember, you have only 750 words, so make each of them count.

What is a kicker?

A kicker is the last sentence of your article. It should leave readers satisfied that they knew what the piece was about and that it was worth getting through. Sometimes circling back to the beginning does the trick.

Language We Use

What do we call people in prison or jail?

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2021/04/12/what-words-we-use-and-avoid-when-covering-people-and-incarceration

http://feeds.wnyc.org/onthemedia

Said and Stated

https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-fiction/keep-it-simple-keys-to-realistic-dialogue-part-ii

From the Associated Press Style Guide


Numbers

In general, spell out one through nine: The Yankees finished second. He had nine months to go. Use figures for 10 or above and whenever preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages of people, animals, events or things. Also in all tabular matter, and in statistical and sequential forms.

Use figures for:

ACADEMIC COURSE NUMBERS: History 6, Philosophy 209.

ADDRESSES210 Main St. Spell out numbered streets nine and under: 5 Sixth Ave.3012 50th St.No. 10 Downing St. Use the abbreviations Ave.Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Spell them out and capitalize without a number: Pennsylvania Avenue.See addresses.

AGESa 6-year-old girlan 8-year-old lawthe 7-year-old house. Use hyphens for ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun. A 5-year-old boy, but the boy is 5 years oldThe boy, 5, has a sister, 10. The race is for 3-year-olds. The woman is in her 30s. 30-something, but Thirty-something to start a sentence.

CENTURIES: Use figures for numbers 10 or higher: 21st century. Spell out for numbers nine and lower: fifth century. (Note lowercase.) For proper names, follow the organization’s usage.


COURT DECISIONS: The Supreme Court ruled 5-4, a 5-4 decision. The word to is not needed, except in quotations: “The court ruled 5 to 4.”

DATES, YEARS AND DECADES: Feb. 8, 2007, Class of ’66, the 1950s. For the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 9/11 is acceptable in all references. (Note comma to set off the year when the phrase refers to a month, date and year.)

MILLIONS, BILLIONS, TRILLIONS: Use a figure-word combination. 1 million people; $2 billion, NOT one million/two billion. (Also note no hyphen linking numerals and the word millionbillion or trillion.)See millions, billions, trillionsdollars.MONETARY UNITS: 5 cents, $5 bill, 8 euros, 4 pounds.

SCHOOL GRADES: Use figures for grades 10 and above: 10th grade. Spell out for first through ninth grades: fourth grade, fifth grader.

SEQUENTIAL DESIGNATIONS: Page 1, Page 20A. They were out of sizes 4 and 5; magnitude 6 earthquake; Rooms 3 and 4; Chapter 2; line 1 but first line; Act 3, Scene 4, but third act, fourth scene; Game 1, but best of seven.See act numberschaptersearthquakesline numberspage numbersscene numbers.

POLITICAL DISTRICTSWard 9, 9th Precinct, 3rd Congressional District.See congressional districtspolitical divisions.–

Recipes2 tablespoons of sugar to 1 cup of milk.See recipes.SPEEDS: 7 mph, winds of 5 to 10 mph, winds of 7 to 9 knots.

(Read More)

Truth Detectives

Wayne Barrett an investigative reporter for the Village voice wrote:

“My credo has always been that the only reason readers come back to you again and again over decades is because of what you unearth for them, and that the joy of our profession is discovery, not dissertation.

There is also no other job where you get paid to tell the truth. Other professionals do sometimes tell the truth, but it’s ancillary to what they do, not the purpose of their job. I was asked years ago to address the elementary school that my son attended and tell them what a reporter did and I went to the auditorium in a trench coat with the collar up and a notebook in a my pocket, baring it to announce that “we are detectives for the people.”

Jimmy Breslin’s Grave Digger Story

‘It’s An Honor’

New York Herald Tribune, November 1963

By Jimmy Breslin

WASHINGTON — Clifton Pollard was pretty sure he was going to be working on Sunday, so when he woke up at 9 a.m., in his three-room apartment on Corcoran Street, he put on khaki overalls before going into the kitchen for breakfast. His wife, Hettie, made bacon and eggs for him. Pollard was in the middle of eating them when he received the phone call he had been expecting. It was from Mazo Kawalchik, who is the foreman of the gravediggers at Arlington National Cemetery, which is where Pollard works for a living. “Polly, could you please be here by 11 o’clock this morning?” Kawalchik asked. “I guess you know what it’s for.” Pollard did. He hung up the phone, finished breakfast, and left his apartment so he could spend Sunday digging a grave for John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

When Pollard got to the row of yellow wooden garages where the cemetery equipment is stored, Kawalchik and John Metzler, the cemetery superintendent, were waiting for him. “Sorry to pull you out like this on a Sunday,” Metzler said. “Oh, don’t say that,” Pollard said. “Why, it’s an honor for me to be here.” Pollard got behind the wheel of a machine called a reverse hoe. Gravedigging is not done with men and shovels at Arlington. The reverse hoe is a green machine with a yellow bucket that scoops the earth toward the operator, not away from it as a crane does. At the bottom of the hill in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Pollard started the digging (Editor Note: At the bottom of the hill in front of the Custis-Lee Mansion).

Leaves covered the grass. When the yellow teeth of the reverse hoe first bit into the ground, the leaves made a threshing sound which could be heard above the motor of the machine. When the bucket came up with its first scoop of dirt, Metzler, the cemetery superintendent, walked over and looked at it. “That’s nice soil,” Metzler said. “I’d like to save a little of it,” Pollard said. “The machine made some tracks in the grass over here and I’d like to sort of fill them in and get some good grass growing there, I’d like to have everything, you know, nice.”

James Winners, another gravedigger, nodded. He said he would fill a couple of carts with this extra-good soil and take it back to the garage and grow good turf on it. “He was a good man,” Pollard said. “Yes, he was,” Metzler said. “Now they’re going to come and put him right here in this grave I’m making up,” Pollard said. “You know, it’s an honor just for me to do this.”

Pollard is 42. He is a slim man with a mustache who was born in Pittsburgh and served as a private in the 352nd Engineers battalion in Burma in World War II. He is an equipment operator, grade 10, which means he gets $3.01 an hour. One of the last to serve John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was the 35th president of this country, was a working man who earns $3.01 an hour and said it was an honor to dig the grave.

Yesterday morning, at 11:15, Jacqueline Kennedy started toward the grave. She came out from under the north portico of the White House and slowly followed the body of her husband, which was in a flag-covered coffin that was strapped with two black leather belts to a black caisson that had polished brass axles. She walked straight and her head was high. She walked down the bluestone and blacktop driveway and through shadows thrown by the branches of seven leafless oak trees. She walked slowly past the sailors who held up flags of the states of this country. She walked past silent people who strained to see her and then, seeing her, dropped their heads and put their hands over their eyes. She walked out the northwest gate and into the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. She walked with tight steps and her head was high and she followed the body of her murdered husband through the streets of Washington.

Everybody watched her while she walked. She is the mother of two fatherless children and she was walking into the history of this country because she was showing everybody who felt old and helpless and without hope that she had this terrible strength that everybody needed so badly. Even though they had killed her husband and his blood ran onto her lap while he died, she could walk through the streets and to his grave and help us all while she walked.

There was Mass, and then the procession to Arlington. When she came up to the grave at the cemetery, the casket already was in place. It was set between brass railings and it was ready to be lowered into the ground. This must be the worst time of all, when a woman sees the coffin with her husband inside and it is in place to be buried under the earth. Now she knows that it is forever. Now there is nothing. There is no casket to kiss or hold with your hands. Nothing material to cling to. But she walked up to the burial area and stood in front of a row of six green-covered chairs and she started to sit down, but then she got up quickly and stood straight because she was not going to sit down until the man directing the funeral told her what seat he wanted her to take.

The ceremonies began, with jet planes roaring overhead and leaves falling from the sky. On this hill behind the coffin, people prayed aloud. They were cameramen and writers and soldiers and Secret Service men and they were saying prayers out loud and choking. In front of the grave, Lyndon Johnson kept his head turned to his right. He is president and he had to remain composed. It was better that he did not look at the casket and grave of John Fitzgerald Kennedy too often. Then it was over and black limousines rushed under the cemetery trees and out onto the boulevard toward the White House. “What time is it?” a man standing on the hill was asked. He looked at his watch. “Twenty minutes past three,” he said.

Clifton Pollard wasn’t at the funeral. He was over behind the hill, digging graves for $3.01 an hour in another section of the cemetery. He didn’t know who the graves were for. He was just digging them and then covering them with boards. “They’ll be used,” he said. “We just don’t know when. I tried to go over to see the grave,” he said. “But it was so crowded a soldier told me I couldn’t get through. So I just stayed here and worked, sir. But I’ll get over there later a little bit. Just sort of look around and see how it is, you know. Like I told you, it’s an honor.”