How to get stories in an interview
“Who?” “What?” “When?” “Where?” “Why?”
These questions are journalistic tools that can help us find stories — or condemn us to a lifetime of cranking out just-the-facts-ma’am pieces.
To do more of the former and less of the latter, shift focus. When you’re interviewing for story, Richard Zahler of The Seattle Times suggests, reframe the five W’s. Let:
- Who become character
- What become plot
- When become chronology
- Where become setting
- Why become motivation
Using this approach, “what,” for example, is transformed into questions like:
- “What happened next?”
- “What were you thinking when …?”
- “What made you say that?”
Those questions can lead beyond just the facts to fascinating anecdotes.