Interviewing. I’ve always been weary of it. I mean, who am I to dig deep down into the essence of one’s life? That job is the for Oprah’s and the Barbara Walters’ of the world. When I’ve taken journalism courses in the past, I’ve always struggled with the interviewing aspect of reporting. I guess I just never felt worthy enough. Most of my subjects have been older then me and when I pulled them aside for an interview, I felt awkward.
Thanks to Postmodern Interviewing by Jaber F. Gubrium and James A. Holstein, I’ve gained a subtle appreciating for the craft of interviewing. It”s interesting to me that interviewing is a relatively new way of getting information. Back then, according to the book, “daily life was more intimate; everyday business was conducted on a face-to-face basis between persons who were well acquainted with one another.” That’s definitely not the case today. Everyone airs their dirty laundry on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. There are no secrets. In fact, I’m not sure there’s really any place for traditional interviewing in this society. The Internet has allowed us to share every private detail. Reporters need only to run an Google search to find it.
This shift is quite significant. After World War II, the act of interviewing became more common. “Individuals, in their own right, are accepted as significant commentators on their own experience; it is not just the ‘chief’ community commentator who speaks for one and all, in other words, or the local representative of the common- wealth whose opinions are taken to express the thoughts and feelings of every mind and heart in the vicinity.” Today, people are ready to offer up information about themselves. Opinions count more and more everyday. Just look at the amount of blogs, and social media accounts on the web. They thrive off the individual and I believe that interviewing will move in that direction.
Later on in the book, the editors talk about something called creative interviewing. Getting someone to let go and reveal their secrets can be tough. You need to develop a technique to creatively coax out the appropriate information while still creating an atmosphere of trust. I will try to keep this in mind when it comes time for me to interview my subjects.