Below is list of common excuses you might hear from yearbook reporters, after they’ve had a bad interview and they return with bad information. Fortunately, good interviewing skills can be taught to help counter each of these excuses and help every student on yearbook staff – even the shy, quiet ones – become more confident interviewers.
Using correct interview techniques will lead to better information from sources and therefore, better stories.
To Susan Asher, the idea was simple.
Every day, she saw dozens of students walking around the halls of Inza R. Wood Middle School carrying iPods and MP3 players, the small, portable digital music players that have become popular and commonplace among kids today.
Asher, the yearbook adviser at the school in Wilsonville, Ore., figured that the trendy devices could be put to productive use by her staff.
Interviewing is a skill gained by following practical procedures. Good reporters, from local newspapers to national magazines, follow these procedures to get great stories. For yearbook writers looking for stories and details to capture the year, the same techniques will work for you.
There are as many ways to teach interviewing as there are advisers. Here are two advisers and their methods for teaching interviewing and reporting skills to beginning reporters.
WHEN I WAS SITTING IN UNDERGRADUATE CLASSES, ONE OF THE KEY POINTERS THAT PROFESSORS GAVE US FUTURE TEACHERS WAS TO APPRECIATE AND RECOGNIZE THE SUPPORT STAFF IN THE SCHOOLS IN WHICH WE WOULD BE WORKING. AS A TEACHER, I HAVE FOUND THIS TO BE GREAT ADVICE, BUT AS A YEARBOOK ADVISER, IT OFFERS EVEN MORE.
No doubt about it, developing questions is the reason most journalists put off interviewing – they cannot think of what to ask. Here are five tips to help your staff get past “question block.”
Never ask them, even if you follow up with “why?” They only give you weak quotes that force you to use awkward transitions. Check your questions and rewrite them to eliminate yes/no questions. A questions is yes/no if it begins with any of these words: do, does, did, have, has, had, can, could, should, will, would, was, were, might, must.
“A yearbook shouldn’t be full of topics,” according to Brady Smekens, adviser of the Deka yearbook staff at Huntington North High School, Huntington, Ind. “Rather, it should tell the story of students. In the process, the topics get covered.” The list of story ideas on this page and continuing throughout this section will help editors brainstorm for coverage unique to their school and the current year.