Interviews With Interviewers… About Interviewing

Skip Blumberg interviews a variety of "interviewers" about their work. These people include regular journalist type reporters, such as Mike Wallace, Barbara Walters, Studs Terkel, and Susan Stamberg; plus a psychoanalyst, Dr. Joel Kovel; and a police interrogator, Sean Grennan. Blumberg gets very honest responses (a tribute to his own interviewing skills) and manages to provide a fascinating look at why we like interviews, how they differ from normal conversations, and the psychological impact on both parties. Each subject has a different take on their work, which makes for interesting viewing. Some good quotes include:

“It [an interview] is a jazz conversation…there’s a discipline to it.” – Studs Terkel

“It looks like a conversation, but is actually very hard and very structured.” -Susan Stamberg

“There is a point in an interview where something goes “bing!” and you know you’ve gotten something special.” -Barbara Walters

On why she herself prefers listening to interviews – “In the course of an interview you’re not spoonfeeding information to the listener in the way you do with a news report.” – Susan Stamberg

“I see myself as a kind of extension or surrogate for the audience, that is, I ask the questions that they would like to know.” – Susan Stamberg

“I’m not interested in what the audience is interested in…I assume the audience has the same basic interests as me…so I’m never going to say ‘I’m going to do what the audience likes,’ I’m going to do what I like and assume that it’s what they like.” – Studs Terkel

“The way you work it out [interviewing] is an extension of yourself.” – Joel Kovel

“It’s an instinct to tell whether a person is lying or telling the truth. It does not depend on the external cues.” – Sean Grennan

“The thing I feel most proud of is, out of all the people, all the books, there isn’t a one who has complained.” – Studs Terkel

 

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