Week 4 – Practicing Interview Skills and Writing Case Studies

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By Samuel Hooper

Week four of the Big Issue Online Journalism training saw the trainees learn interview techniques and recap key photography skills before going on location to interview three social enterprise directors about their work. Our efforts led to a series of case study articles profiling the work of these organizations.

We were first split into pairs and assigned a role either as interviewer or photographer. Your blogger today was selected to serve as photographer as we interviewed Eddie Bridgeman, the director of a community interest company (CIC) called Meanwhile Spaces.

The Big Issue Online Journalists also interviewed leaders from Hackney Pirates, an unconventional learning centre helping young people with literacy and academic support, and Chats Palace, a thriving community arts centre in Homerton.

The main objective of the exercise was to produce work that would meet the expectations of our audience – in this case, readers of the Answers From Big Issue publication. It was important to maintain focus and use our limited time to gather information, quotes and images that would work together to tell a positive story about social enterprises benefiting the community.

Preparation was key, and we spent Thursday morning researching the organizations, working out the right questions to ask and thinking of the best photo opportunities to look for once we were on location. The afternoon was then spent conducting the interviews and photographing the interviewees and the surroundings.

The interviewers had to contend with various challenges, including late-running subjects, temperamental voice recorders (the bane of every journalist) and distracting background noise. However, the application of our newfound interview skills yielded good results, with all of the interviewees displaying palpable enthusiasm for their projects and eagerness to increase public awareness of them.

Jan, one of the trainees on photographic duty, also had to be creative and rely on his training in order to overcome challenges while on location at Hackney Pirates. He said: “The lighting was very warm, and was not continuous throughout the room which presented a real challenge.”

Friday was devoted to transcribing the interviews, downloading the images and writing the articles for publication on this blog and consideration for Answers From Big Issue. The assignment was challenging but rewarding, and showed a big increase in our collective knowledge and skill compared to our humble beginnings in February.

Next week, the Big Issue Online Journalists will take on full length feature articles – stay tuned for the results of our work.

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