August 17, 2006KR BlogUncategorized

The Interview According to ESPN

First of all, keep in mind that the interview is about the person being interviewed–not the interviewer. Seem like a no-brainer? Not for Mike Wallace, says John Sawatsky. And don’t imitate Larry King, either:

Sawatsky’s rules are simple, but he says they get broken all the time: Don’t ask yes-or-no questions, keep questions short and avoid charged words, which can distract people. In his seminar, Sawatsky points to Mike Wallace of CBS’ 60 Minutes and CNN’s Larry King as examples to avoid. In Sawatsky’s illustrative clips, King favors leading questions that generate curt answers, while Wallace’s rapid patter fails to get a subject to speak candidly.

Sawatsky says Wallace and the others are better at theatrics than journalism, and that they often trip up their own interviews — by thinking they should be the focus of attention.

Not that King or Wallace are happy about this, mind you.

King also questions Sawatsky’s ability to make a fundamental change in the way ESPN staffers conduct interviews, “because you can’t teach someone to be curious.”