Interview like a human being

Suw and I are huge fans of This American Life, a show on NPR in the US. We often listen to the podcast over breakfast on the weekends. My friend Mohamed Nanabhy says that the US government should spend its public diplomacy budget on This American Life because it’s such a good representative for the US.

One of the great things being back in the US during the elections was to catch up with Andy Carvin, head of the social media desk at NPR. Andy is live blogging a session with the host of This American Life, Ira Glass, on story telling and interviewing.

There is s view that an aggressive, in your face style of interviewing is the mark of a great journalist, but Ira and his team actually tell wonderful stories about everyday life full of humanity. It’s an amazing form of journalism, just different from aggressive public accountability journalism. Here are a couple of choice quotes from Ira:

Ira Glass: If you do interviews like a stiff, that’s what comes out of the interview subject. One of your greatest tools is to be a human being.

or this nugget:

Ira Glass: Pure imagination. Part of what makes a story work is the reporter imagining what it really means to be this person.

For any budding journalist who wants to know about interview techniques, Ira is one to listen to or watch.