Businessweek’s Tyrangiel talks about interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook

Josh Tyrangiel, editor of Bloomberg Businessweek, spent two hours last week with Apple CEO Tim Cook for an in-depth interview featured in next week’s issue. The 13-page cover story revealed, among other things, that Apple plans to manufacture some Macs in the United States, and that “the most underappreciated thing about Steve” Jobs was his ability to change his mind. Through Head of Communications Rachel Nagler, Tyrangiel responded by email to some questions about the interview.

Poynter: How did the interview come about?

Josh Tyrangiel joined Businessweek in late 2009 when it was acquired by Bloomberg. (Courtesy: Joseph Moran/Bloomberg Businessweek)

Josh Tyrangiel: Businessweek has had a good relationship with Apple for years, and I’ve worked with Apple for a long time as well. We pitched them on a lengthy conversation many months ago, and two weeks ago they called and said Tim was ready to talk. Simple as that.

There’s a familiar, authentic tone to the questions and responses. Can you say anything about the relationship between you two? Have you interviewed him previously (and if so, how many times)?

Tyrangiel: We’ve met before, but never done a formal interview. I’d say that any sense you get of warmth or familiarity is a tribute to Tim Cook. It’s not easy to be interviewed, but he’s really quite free of affectation and very comfortable talking candidly about Apple.

The interview broke news in several different ways. How did you think about that as a goal?

Tyrangiel: Like most interviews, my goal was simply to have a good conversation. I aimed to touch on as many things as possible in the time at hand, and perhaps we sacrificed a bit of depth on some issues for breadth. But I think that was the right strategy.

Tim Cook became CEO of Apple in August 2011.

How did you prepare for the conversation and craft the questions? About how much time did that take?

Tyrangiel: I made sure to be up on all the latest Apple news and spent a few hours crafting questions to ensure they were precisely worded. I also got great questions from a few trusted peers.

What surprised you about the interview?

Tyrangiel: It shouldn’t have surprised me, but the depth of his feeling for Apple, and the seriousness with which he takes his responsibility, are palpable.

Any lessons/tips for other journalists heading into important interviews?

Tyrangiel: Ask questions you really want to know the answers to, and then really listen to how your subject answers them. Kind of obvious, but it works.

Were there any restrictions placed on the interview by Mr. Cook, Apple or representatives?

Tyrangiel: Nope. They were a real pleasure to work with.

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