Writing the Interview Story By Mr. Tim Schaff Roundup High School Basics Organize your notes. Write your lead (a good AP lead will do). Avoid general descriptions. (You owe your subject more than that. Example of a general description: Melissa Green is a lively attractive senior. Getting the Portrait on Paper Use details that will help your readers “see” the subject. Example: At 5’ 4” most people wouldn’t think Melissa would be much of a threat on the basketball floor. After all hoops are for tall people. Melissa’s floor speed, and lateral quickness leave defenders gasping. Many times, the last thing they see is the flying brown pony tail and the big number 10 on the back of her jersey. Using Quotes Let the subject tell the story. Use many direct quotes when you write an interview story. Quotes bring the subject to life for the reader. Try to focus on quotes that tell why. Then focus on who and what. Example: Green said, “I love blowing by defenders and breaking down defenses. It gets everybody involved in the game.” Using Quotes Cont. Tell the when and where with straight writing. Remember to keep yourself out of the story. Third person is best. Never: “When asked how it felt.” Statements like this put the writer in the story. Always: She said that being a part of the Panther squad was “one of the best parts of high school.” Q&A Q & A interview articles are when the exact questions and exact answers are written. Example: Q.: How does it feel to be part of such a good team? A: It has to be one of the best parts of being in high school. Q & A articles are the lazy way of doing an interview article and have become almost clichés in high school newspapers. Work harder . Strive to be different! Prior Review by the Soure? What if a subject wants to read the article before you publish it? Use to be an unqualified no. Today many journalists use a read back. One university journalism school in Missouri requires read backs. It does help in accuracy. The Panther Parade uses read back. Handling Quotes You have to be sure that your quotes are accurate. Use read back during the interview. You must to use quotes in context. Report facts. Keep your slant out. Don’t use exact quotes if the source curses or uses poor grammar. You can clean this up. Use good taste. Use paraphrase to state facts not direct quotes. Use partial quotes to avoid overuse of either direct quotes or paraphrases. Partial quotes can aid in the story’s flow. Punctuation In general remember to punctuate with comma then quote, and that end marks generally go inside the quotes. See your AP manual for more detailed rules. Direct Quote: Green said, “I love blowing by defenders and breaking down defenses. It gets everybody involved in the game.” (Note the comma preceded the quote mark and that the period was inside the closing quote mark. Partial Quote: Green said that being a part of the Panther squad was “one of the best parts of high school.” (Note there was no comma preceding the opening quote mark and that the period was inside the closing quote mark. Punctuation cont. Paraphrases or indirect quotes are puntuated with no quote marks. Example:Green said their next game would start at 8 p.m., Saturday. Attribution Attribution is simply giving the reader the name of the source. Green said, “I love blowing by defenders and breaking down defenses. It gets everybody involved in the game.” Word To Use for Attribution The best word for attribution is simply “said.” Other words imply facts or opinions that may not be true. Explained (should be used only if the quote was an explanation. Many times explanations are lists of facts and should be paraphrased rather than quoted. Pointed out (This give the readers an impression that what was said is a fact. Ask yourself, “Was it a fact or opinion.) Noted (This one is just dull and boring). Warned (Is there a genuine warning here? Is there a genuine threat. Beware of the context of this word). Charged (This word has legal potential. Be sure of yourself here). Asserted, stated and declared (slightly stronger and more formal than said. Do you need to be formal? Formal tends to bore kids.) More Words To Use for Attribution The best word for attribution is simply “said.” Other words imply facts or opinions that may not be true. Admitted (Implies guilt, a mistake or wrong doing. Be certain one of these is the case.) Claimed (Implies what is being said might be disputed or is being disputed.) Quipped (Implies the use of humor or wit. Was the statement light?) Snapped, wept, laughed (imply non-verbal communications. These words are usually weak and should be avoided.) USE SAID. It is the best attribution. When do you Attribute If a story is a simple announcement and of little consequence specific attribution may not be needed. If the story is of great consequence or controversial always attribute.
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