June 9, 2016

The best interviews for audio narratives provide the facts around an issue and offer distinct moments that add color, interest and variety to a story.

The basics of good interviewing apply to an audio story. But there are additional factors for audio narratives, especially if you’re planning to tell the story solely through interview clips, without the benefit of a reporter or narrator.

Make sure your subjects answer questions in full sentences. You’ll need to sketch out your list of questions very carefully to ensure that you get the right kind of answer. If subjects answer in part or provide only “yes” or “no” responses, ask a follow-up question such as “Tell me more about that.”

Ask open-ended questions. As you map out your interview, make sure your questions can be answered with more than a “yes” or “no” response.

Ask your subjects to be as descriptive as possible. Subjects’ answers create images in the minds of listeners. Ask questions that allow the person to put your audience at the scene.

Fill in the gaps in your story with successive interviews. Review your work as you go to see what the story is still missing. Ask questions accordingly with each new interview.

Taken from Telling Stories with Sound, a self-directed course by Andrew DeVigal and Casey Frechette at Poynter NewsU.

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Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current…
Vicki Krueger

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