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Daily Archives: May 12, 2012

Clay Ziegler asked a dozen journalists about email interviews vs. phone interviews, and “all but one who responded did so in enthusiastic defense of the phone interview,” although “a couple worried about its future.”

What they told him:

Politico’s Jessica Meyers: “In Washington, you get people in person or you get them by email. There’s not much of a conversation where you call up and chat.”

Nevada Appeal editor Dennis Noone: “I find the phone to be the preferred method of communication … and I don’t say that because I’m an old-school dinosaur. The phone cuts to the chase better. It helps you get a read on people.”

Dallas Morning News breaking news editor Bruce Tomaso: The phone interview is “not dead, but not the vital tool it once was.” It is, he says, “entirely possible to do lucid interviews by email or Facebook.”

WFAA-TV investigative producer Jason Trahan: “Email interviews aren’t really interviews. They are efficient, but are limiting. The best interviews are those that include banter and asides which lead to more questions and ultimately better information imparted.”

ProPublica’s Michael Grabell: “Despite the sense that e-mail is more efficient, I find that e-mail interviews often take longer. The statement often doesn’t answer the question fully or raises follow-up questions. I’ve had rounds of this that have gone on for a week when it could have been resolved in an interview in one hour. I usually don’t want a statement. I want a conversation.”

Ziegler closes his piece telling readers that this was an experiment of sorts “that yielded some interesting findings.”

Do you recall that I reached out to a dozen journalists? Well, I made sure to contact three by phone and three through Twitter, Facebook or email.

Two of the three people I left phone messages with called me back the same day. They gave me the most colorful quotes. The fastest responses came with Twitter, and all three people to whom I sent direct messages responded on the same day. A few direct messages allowed for quick follow up, though there was that 140-character limit.

Just one of three of my Facebook friends responded, with a concise but brief answer. Two of the three people I emailed responded within a day. They may have given the most thoughtful responses, but in both cases there was an exchange to clarify my intent.

What’s your preferred way of conducting interviews? (What my Facebook friends say.)

* The phone interview lives, and why that’s a good thing (Ideagrove.com)
* Is the phone interview dead? (PRDaily.com)