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Oxford-style Interviewing standard

a more civilized model that televised interviews should follow
  [vote for,

[Title changed]

Watch any news reporter interview a high-profile personage on their show, one who has been cast in a negative light by the media for WHATEVER reason, and you'll see what I mean. Anderson Cooper invited the Syrian ambassador to appear as a guest on his show, and he boorishly interrupted and talked over the man throughout the entire interview. I can understand calling him out on the untrue statements he made, but throughout the *entire* interview he was treated more like a hostage than a guest.

I realize after reading the linked article something that hadn't occurred to me previously. I was unaware of the time constraints and the specifically planned questions the interviewer needs time to ask. So to prevent having to interrupt to ask the next question, I propose that interviews follow the Oxford Style debate model. That is, the interviewer asks his/her question, and the guest has a predetermined length of time (say, 1-2 minutes, maybe longer depending on the time available) in which to phrase his/her response. During that timeslot, the interviewer must remain silent unless the guest indicates that he has finished speaking. At the end of the two minutes, a bell is rung by a moderator and the guest must then stop speaking until the interviewer has asked his next question.

In the case of the interview linked below, in which the reporter had 10 minutes to ask her questions, she should have realized that 10 minutes was far too little time to get into the serious issues she wanted to bring up. She should have either stuck to simpler issues, prepared fewer questions, or negotiated in advance for more time.

This Oxford-style debate interview model is something to which interviewers and people in positions to be interviewed (ie, politicians, diplomats, and celebrities) would have to adapt in order for both sides to be able to get their points across in a more direct, less rambling manner. This, I believe, has its own benefits.

21 Quest, Aug 21 2011

Differing standards of "polite" vs. "obsequious" http://www.timesonl...s/article576295.ece
Videos widely available on the Web. [mouseposture, Aug 21 2011]

Why Interviewers are Rude http://en.wikipedia...wiki/Carole_Coleman
"she resorted to interrupting the President because she was afraid his stock answers would eat up all time she had for interview: "It was a filibuster of sorts. If I didn’t challenge him, the interview would be a wasted opportunity". [AntiQuark, Aug 21 2011]


       Granted, possibly, but more rant than idea I think.
normzone, Aug 21 2011

       Skillful interviewers can be polite, without being deferential. Banning rudeness, though, would force interviewers of merely average ability to be deferential. More harm than good, IMO.

       Also, distinguish //invited guests// from those who seek the interview as a platform from which to make a public statement.

       [edit] This was in response to an earlier version of the idea.
mouseposture, Aug 21 2011

       Then the news would become one giant infomercial for corrupt politicians, capitalists, religious leaders, etc. Sort of like Fox news is today.
AntiQuark, Aug 21 2011

       MP, any guest is there at the sole discretion of the TV show's hosts. Yes, people may seek the interview but it is the reporter who decides wether or not to allow that person to appear on his show. If he accepts the interview request, then he is inviting the person to appear as a guest on the show. Both sides have an agenda. The guest wants to spread his message. The interviewer wants to get him to say certain things that he can use to make the guy look bad (or good). This is not an excuse to forget our manners. The Syrian ambassador, while perhaps being untruthful, was at least tactful and polite even while under fire. I think he easily carried the moral highground throughout the interview.

       As to the other point, only skilled interviewers have any business appearing on TV.

       [Post edited]
21 Quest, Aug 21 2011

       Anderson Cooper isn't an interviewer, he's a televized bully with a large staff of writers. There are still a few unbiased interviewers out there, mostly on NPR.
Alterother, Aug 21 2011

       Oxford style? "Your starter for ten", "fingers on the buzzers" and "I'll have to hurry you..."
po, Aug 21 2011

       But what if the interviewee is just outright lying, and the interviewer knows it? Is the interviewer supposed to sit there for two minutes while the guy spews BS, or should he interrupt to say, "actually, you're full of crap."
AntiQuark, Aug 21 2011

       How about waiting til he finishes (how much BS can you spew in 2 minutes? Wait.... don't answer that) and keep count of the untruths, then address them when he's done?

       "Ok now that you've spoken your peace, it's fact time. I haven't seen what's going on in Syria with my own eyes because I went there and your guards prevented me from leaving the capital. I know your snipers aren't just targetting armed gangs because there are child corpses on TV with well-placed shots to the head. I know your government is doing this, and not just a few rogue soldiers, because it is NOT doing anything to prevent it."

       And then he has 2 minutes to address these accusations, which leaves little time for bullshit.
21 Quest, Aug 21 2011

       //Oxford style? "Your starter for ten", "fingers on the buzzers" and "I'll have to hurry you..."//

       Can't be po, I'm thinking JP questioning Michael Howard on Newsnight - not exactly what 21Q is suggesting.

       Queensbury Rules might be interesting too.
zen_tom, Aug 22 2011

       I once heard an anecdote from a British TV reporter working in the US, with a US crew, interviewing some controversial character for British TV.
The reporter was shocked when the cameraman asked if they were lighting the subject "for" or "against" - literally putting the interviewee in a bad light.
I find it difficult whenever I see "serious" US TV to comprehend how partisan some of the interviewers are.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Aug 22 2011

       It shocks me, too, although the BBC isn't much better.
21 Quest, Aug 22 2011

       Journalism isn't journalism anymore, it's sensationalism. It's multi- media entertainment deceptively packaged as the truth. I agree that the US media has been leading the charge in that direction from the outset, but I wouldn't be any less disgusted by it. This is part of the reason that [The Alterother] only watches TV about once a month, unless the Bruins are on a winning streak.
Alterother, Aug 22 2011

       The sadder thing is how thin the packaging wrapper apparently has to be.
RayfordSteele, Aug 22 2011

       //the BBC isn't much better//

       I weep for the Beeb. It should be much better but, as you say, it isn't.
pertinax, Aug 23 2011


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