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The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Art of Interviewing

Original Art by Nathaniel Tjen

You may have noticed that many articles featured in The Echo contain interviews and comments from students, faculty, and the community beyond MSE. Editors encourage writers to add these in order to gather information and include a diverse array of perspectives in their pieces. But interviewing is not always a natural skill for writers. Many staff writers in The Echo had to practice conducting interviews before they could excel at it and ultimately produce the splendid articles you see on the paper issues and web issues. In fact, some of our writers only began honing their interviewing skills a few weeks ago!

In The Echo newspaper elective, Ms. Hesseltine planned a Vox Pop activity — a series of short interviews with members of the public — to practice interviewing skills and gather opinions of people on and around campus. As an elective, we ventured out of Baskerville to ask people what kind of cheese they would be, whether they trust the current Supreme Court, their favorite sport, and more. At first, many elective members were nervous about approaching people, but after working up the courage to face their fears, talking to strangers turned out to be a blast! 

Lorys, a staff editor for The Echo, noted that some interviewees were initially apprehensive about doing the interview, but relaxed once they heard a simple and fun question like “If you were a cheese, what cheese would you be?” When Lorys and her group asked Dana, a woman who had been walking her dog on campus, she said that her favorite kind of cheese is blue cheese, but she sees herself as a weird cashew cheese because she has been trying to go vegan. Dana seemed closed off when the group first approached her, but they soon found that she was very friendly and chatty once they started to converse.

For a more challenging question, Astrid, a Perspectives Section Leader for The Echo, asked Eddie and Mussei — who work in stores along Amsterdam — whether they had faith in the Supreme Court. Eddie said that the Supreme Court was crooked, but Mussei told them that he trusted the court because “they allowed Trump to stay on the ballot” which he viewed as a good decision. Astrid and their group aren’t sure if Mussei is a Trump supporter or not, but they found it interesting that someone expressed strong confidence in the Supreme Court when most other interviewees complained that the justices can’t be trusted. These contrasting responses further emphasize the value of interacting with people on the street in journalism.

Siona, the Beyond Baskerville Section Leader, advised taking a deep breath and slowing down the moment before an interview to feel less overwhelmed. She emphasized that interviewers should always “practice [their] introduction!” She also said that it’s important to ask follow-up questions specific to the person you’re interviewing, since it will lead to more interesting and personal answers. 

Sometimes, and more often than not, people might decline an interview. If this happens, know that “rejection is okay, not everybody has to agree with you. It can be nerve-wracking, but the world is not ending” said Joven, one of our Art Directors. In fact, the best way to deal with rejection is to understand that there is a time and place for everything. If the intended interviewee is preoccupied with something, don’t interview them. For instance, if a student is rushing to make it to their next class, don’t stop them for an interview. Or if someone is visibly upset with a personal matter, they likely are not in the right frame of mind to engage in a conversation. If someone isn’t preoccupied or in a hurry, then they might be a good subject for an interview. Zoe, one of our Editors-in-Chief, found that “sometimes you get the best responses when you catch someone off guard!”

Vox Pop-style interviews were fun and useful for Echo journalists in training. Our staff are often conducting interviews in the school and on campus, and you could very likely have an opportunity to share your thoughts for an article in future issues! Or maybe you’ve been inspired to join The Echo club or elective and experience interviewing people for yourself. That’s all for now, but keep your eyes open for another peek into The Echo newsroom!

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