How to Conduct Interviews On-Camera

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These days, print journalists and freelance writers engage in a variety of multimedia roles. One of the most demanding is video production, which deals with loads of equipment, crews, time and energy. Unlike articles, when a video interview goes badly, you can’t rephrase information or add research to save the final product. You must always get the best out of your subject and raise the profile of your production.

To produce a good on-camera interview, you must prepare properly beforehand. A great interview is informative, entertaining and presented in an appealing manner. It also requires the right person in the right environment, where the interviewee appears comfortable and credible. However, when you need someone to share their input in front of a camera, many things can get it the way. Here are a few techniques to make the process a lot smoother.

Prepare the Interviewee
Before you begin, describe the process to your subject. Demonstrate the filming equipment and explain how filming may stop from time to time to account for unwanted background noise or other environmental factors. Tell them where they need to be positioned and certain segments may be recorded again for editing purposes. Give your subject an overall view of what you are going to discuss doing the interview, but avoid giving them a list of the questions beforehand. You don’t want rehearsed answers, but more spontaneous, natural responses. Let them know that some questions may be repeated.

Set the stage
Interview locations and backgrounds can provide context and reinforce credibility of a source. If a subject is a doctor, film them in their clinic. If they’re a teacher, have them positioned in front of a classroom. Make the setting as interesting as possible. For example, dress up a drab office by organizing the area and repositioning furniture. And if you are filming a subject in an office, don’t trap them behind a desk, but place them in front of it.

Ask and Ask Again
There are subjects that are very articulate, in which case, you’ll have a productive interview. Occasionally though, you’ll come across some sources who are brief in their responses. Yes and no answers don’t edit well in a film interview. And if that’s all you get, the entire footage may be unusable.

When faced with a tough interview subject, redirect or rephrase the questions and keep repeating them again and again. The more times the subject is asked a question, they eventually begin to think about their answers and open up more. Keep repeating questions until you get a genuine response from the interviewee.

Placement
Most people are not very comfortable speaking in front of a camera. Don’t allow your subjects to look into the camera. Focus them answering your questions as if you’re both having a conversation, rather than looking directly into the camera lens. This will ensure they appear credible and cogent on film.

Wrap Up
At the end of interview, ask the subject if they have any final thoughts to add. Thank them for their time and let them know when the finished product can be viewed or made available to them. Make certain if it’s possible to return and do a follow-up in case additional footage may be needed.

Image courtesy of worradmu / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jobs of the Day: Digital Producer APM, Health Reporter Wall St. Journal, Video Producer in Kenya

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From Wall Street to the streets of Kenya, today’s job posts go global. We have digital media jobs for American Public Media, as well as health and financial reporting gigs in the Big Apple. For those of you who want to break into foreign reporting, there are several openings at the Nation Media Group in Kenya. Ready for your adventure? This is it.

Here are Ebyline’s Jobs of the day:

Health Reporter – Wall Street Journal

The New York Health & Science group is looking for an experienced news hound to join its corporate reporting team, helping cover the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries. These industries are facing enormous challenges, including looming patent expirations, the need to find growth amid a tough regulatory environment, and increasing pressures to reduce health-care costs while better serving patient needs. The ideal candidate will have a proven ability to get inside companies and break news, and the vision to see events in a larger context and write compelling, enterprising stories that keep us ahead of the curve. The job also requires the ability to translate complex medical and scientific subjects for the lay reader. Prior experience with medicine and science isn’t required, but a fascination with the subject and willingness to learn is essential. Interested parties should contact Stefanie Ilgenfritz, Health & Science bureau chief.

Staff Writer – Daily Comet
Seeking staff writer to cover cops, fire, courts and related topics in Lafourche Parish, La.

We’re looking for someone with enterprise and talent to write both breaking news and in-depth stories. Qualified job applicants will have a strong hard-news background and the ability to dig for hard-hitting stories, root out corruption and other problems and write about solutions.

You must possess the ability to think critically and take on the tough stories while maintaining professionalism and compassion. A sense of humor is a must, as is the ability to learn how to spell names like Boudreaux and Thibodaux. For this beat, we’re looking for someone able to craft stories, not just on the mechanics of public safety and legal justice, but on the people and communities affected.

Feature writers need not apply.

Associate Digital Producer – American Public Media

The Associate Digital Producer is part of a group of Web producers & designers that serves the marketing, corporate communications & revenue-generating areas of the organization including Underwriting, Commerce, & Membership/Development.
At this point the position is temporary with undetermined end date. The position has flexible hours, usually ranging from 20 – 30 hours a week but occasionally more, especially during the fall & holiday seasons.
- Sets up & tracks email campaigns on external email provider systems
- Compiles emailings from provided materials
- Maintains & updates information on a variety of web sites
- Produces online ads within established guidelines
- Maintains presence in external social networking sites
- Checks work for meeting established HTML standards & browser compatibility requirements.
- Identifies & reports production problems & assists with solutions.
- Create digital assets — images & text
- Compile assets from various sources for digital distribution
- Assist in the production of special features & projects

St. Paul, MN

Financial Services Editor – Dow Jones Newswires

Dow Jones Newswires is seeking an experienced editor to manage a dedicated group of U.S. reporters covering the financial services industry . Candidates should have proven experience in real-time financial journalism, strong writing skills and a keen eye for finding news in the investment banks, commercial banks, insurance, hedge funds and consumer finance industries. Experience managing a dynamic group of journalists and article writers is desirable as is the ability to balance breaking news stories with big-picture thematic pieces. The team writes for Dow Jones Newswires as well as the online and print editions of The Wall Street Journal.

Applicants should attach a resume, cover letter and three to five clips to the application. The position is based in New York City.

Online Video Producer -Nation Media Group (Kenya)

These position falls vacant within the Editorial Department. The candidates should have good understanding of new media, proven writing, editing, and web production abilities and sound knowledge of current affairs. He/She should also be innovative, analytical and adaptable to fast-changing news and technology realities and work under tight deadlines.

Key responsibilities and duties:
-Gatekeeper for video standards for multimedia storytelling on web and mobile.
-Checking and correcting editorial products for facts, accuracy, taste, house- style, language use, clarity and balance to conform to NMG Editorial
Policy;
-Ensure NMG content is properly projected on digital platforms, including SEO.
-Ensuring timely publishing to digital platforms;
-Social media engagement.

Via Journalism Jobs, International Journalists’ Network

Freelance Writing Burnout and What You Can Do About It

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Everyone gets burned out from time to time. Freelancers are no different. There are plenty of great perks to being a freelancer, but sometimes you have that existential crisis. Why am I here? What do I want? Is this what I want to do? Prolific freelance writer and author Kelly James Enger has been there. “With fourteen years of freelance experience, I’m far from immune to burnout. Instead, I can predict that every nine to eighteen months, I’ll go through a period where I seriously question my freelance career.”

Yet Kelly doesn’t let the burnout get her down. Instead she takes the time to evaluate the root causes of her disillusionment, and looks for a way to get through it.

In her new post for Dollars and Deadlines, she describes some surefire ways to beat freelancing burnout.

Here are a few of Kelly’s insights.

If you’re falling out of love with freelancing, first determine what’s causing the burnout. Do you have too much work overall—or simply too many deadlines all falling at the same time? Are your clients too demanding? Is it the type of work you’re doing? Or is it that you’re bogged down with “grunt work,” things like transcribing interviews, chasing down money that’s owed to you, or following up on queries you haven’t had a response to?

Sit down with your choice of caffeinated beverage and make a list of the pros and cons of freelancing. Look at this as a brainstorming exercise; don’t worry about listing them in order of importance or how many you have on each side. Then read your list and compare the pros and cons.

 

Read the rest of Kelly’s post A Surefire Way to Beat Freelancing Burnout at her blog Dollars and Deadlines.

How do you deal with freelancing burnout? What are your own tips for how to beat it?

Make the Business Side of Freelance Writing More Pleasure than Pain

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Writers have a driving need to describe, explain, and express. The change of seasons intoxicates. The vibrancy of fall leaf colors attracts and the irony of such beauty coming at the end of the growing season causes inner contemplation. The creative soul could at times exist and thrive in the world of individual and craft; however, for most self-employed writers the creative process must also pay the bills.

Enter Dr. Victor Vroom’s Expectancy Theory of Motivation. Dr. Vroom’s theory works on the principle of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. Within this work management theory a writer can find a financially rewarding balance between the creative and the mundane.

Simply put Expectancy Theory asks what you expect the outcome of your tasks will be and offers a formula for how well you will succeed based on your mindset. How well you expect the task to proceed will affect your motivation to begin and complete the task. For example, you pitch an article idea but have heard this editor is slow to respond and is even slower to pay after the article is filed or you have worked with this editor before and have firsthand experience of this fact. The creative part of you loves researching and writing on the topic this magazine covers, but what will be the outcome of the task knowing there may be hazards ahead? By using Dr. Vroom’s Theory, you can work through the emotional part of taking this assignment based on how motivated you will be to begin and finish. Motivation has a distinct effect on your bottom line.

The Theory’s three factors grant insight into how you see an assignment from past experiences and if you perceive the outcome to be rewarding or unsatisfying. Do you see the project as producing pleasure or pain? The factors are: Expectancy, Valence, and Instrumentality.

Expectancy: You have the assignment. It is penciled in on your calendar but the closer it gets to the time to contact sources to set up interviews the more you dread getting started. Why? What’s causing your hesitation? Check your motivation so that before you pitch this market again you will know whether it is worth your time. Ask yourself is the pain worth the pleasure. Figure your hourly rate and consider time lost due to procrastinating.

Valency: What is your reward for completing this article? If the subject matter is not your specialty and in fact you find it boring, think through what will make completing the article more pleasurable to you. Will you be compensated well, help others with the information in the article, or will writing the article have long-term positive effects on your career.

Instrumentality: After thinking through your motivation for pitching and completing the project now measure the probability of obtaining the desired outcome which is your project will be more pleasure than pain. Use the following equation:

Force (Motivation) = Valence x Expectancy

The Force or motivation you apply to the project is a direct result of the outcome you want (Valence) multiplied by how you fared previously producing the project or a similar project. For example:

1) If you feel the outcome of this project will reward you in ways that will help your career the Valence rate will be high. The same is true of the Expectancy rate. 2) If you do not believe payment for the project is sufficient and completing a similar project was previously unsatisfying then both rates will be low. 3) One rating can also be higher than the other i.e., you feel the Valency of doing the job is low but did have a good experience previously then the rates will vary. The expectancy rate can be high with a low valency rate, as well.

1) Force (64) = .8 (V) x .7 (E)
2) Force (16) = .2 (V) x .1 (E)
3) Force (36) = .6 (V) x .2 (E)

Force in each of these equations measures your motivation to do a job and can help you make a conscious business decision of whether to accept a project. As usual, you will initially figure your hourly rate for a project but factoring in previous outcomes can keep you from taking a project that will become a time drain. Ask yourself is the pleasure worth the pain as a freelance writer. If not, find a project you are better suited doing. You will, at times, have to take projects you are not excited about, but if the outcome is rewarding then you know you have made the right decision and knowing that will produce a positive attitude toward the project.

Why Using a Smartphone as a Recorder is a Bad Idea

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One of the most common questions that I’m routinely asked by new journalists and investigative article writers is what recorder I use to tape interviews. I actually have two small portable Olympus digital recorders (WS-300M and an Olympus LS10) that I’ve been happy with. Both recorders have intuitive controls and good recording quality. I’ve even used the latter for broadcast interviews. Occasionally, I see journalists using iPhones as a recorder, which is fine if you’ve got nothing else. But the many disadvantages are not worth the convenience for the following reasons.

  • Using your smartphone as a recorder will diminish the short battery life that you already have to deal with. A dedicated recorder uses cheap AA and AAA batteries that you can more easily replace on the go.
  • Dedicated recorders typically have blinking recording lights that allow you to see from afar that they’re actually recording.  
  • Smartphones are harder to operate and monitor on the fly than a dedicated device. Try wading through menus on a touchscreen while in bright daylight and running to keep up with an interview subject. Most digital recorders have a single physical record button.
  • Using your smartphone at a press conference or roundtable means that you’re giving up your link to the world until the event is over. Not a good idea if you need to make or take a call, look something up on Google or snap a photo.
  • The biggest issue I’ve seen is how some smartphones can affect electronic devices while sharing a podium or press roundtable. Cell phones transmit regular signals to communicate with local cell towers and these pulses, especially when on GSM or EDGE mode, can be picked up by nearby digital recording devices and it is loud. Your colleagues will hate you for ruining their recordings.

A few tips:

If you do see a smartphone being used as a recorder, place your recorder as far away as possible from the device. But keep the recorder close to the speaker since distance increases how much background noise the microphone will pick up. If you insist on using your smartphone as a recorder, turn the cellular feature off. Inversely, keep your own smartphone away from your digital recorder while doing interviews. Switching the phone to “airplane mode” is the safest precaution that you can take in both instances.

 

 

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