I was lucky enough to attend Polly Kreisman’s Interview Techniques for Journalists during the January Academy 2011.

Polly is a highly experienced broadcast journalist and investigative reporter and a winner of  15 Emmy’s!   She framed her workshop on smart interviewing with many of the same approaches that work well for non-narrated web videos.

One of my favorite stories she related was from author Robert Caro who has won two Pulitzer Prizes for his brilliant biographies.

Polly said Caro’s three main tips for interviewing are

1) shut up
2) shut up
3) shut up.

She also shared two great resources: an NPR story by David Falkenflik about John Sawatsky who teaches journalists effective interviewing (hint: don’t act like Mike Wallace or Larry King) Here’s another great story The Question Man about John Sawatsky, from American Journalism Review that I had floating arounf my hard drive.

She also shared a beautiful clip from a powerful documentary Alive Day Memories (2007) where the interviews were done by the actor James Gandolfini. You hear Gandolfini ask just one question from off camera and it’s the perfect question at the right moment.

And it’s a great example of what makes great web video too: emotional stories told from a powerful place in a subjects memory that have a universal appeal.

Thanks so much to Polly for sharing her work and experience and ideas. Here’s more of Polly Kreisman on Vimeo

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