It has been challenging for journalists to carry out their reporting during the pandemic. Many of us have avoided carrying out our work in-person if we can, instead often doing so through a computer screen.
In this context, we must keep reporting, pitching stories and gathering news. We have learned a lot over the past year as we have found ways to cover stories remotely without missing the complexities of the world.
While a lot can be lost in virtual interviews, we’ve compiled tips to help you practice empathy, preserve your well-being and listen as best as possible to what your interviewees have to say.
(1) Avoid scheduling a video call if can be done by phone
Focusing on the screen causes wear and tear for both the journalist and the interview subject. It’s not always necessary to see each other to conduct an interview.
(2) Take 10 minutes to “get in the mood” before the interview
If you have children at home, for example, it is important to make sure that they are busy and calm so that you feel mentally available to listen to someone else.
Do not hesitate to surround yourself with what makes you more willing to listen and able enter the universe of your interview subject. This could mean grabbing a cup of coffee, or maybe using a space in your home other than your desk — just don’t forget the headset. The goal is to avoid starting the interview stressed out.
(3) Try to start with something positive
You can preface your interview by saying something like:
- “I’m so happy to be able to talk with you;”
- “Thanks for your availability;” or
- “It’s nice to be able to meet you.”
Avoid saying something negative that highlights the technical difficulties of a Zoom interview.
by Marie Naudascher, International Journalists’ Network