View Full Version : Dangerious Intervewing/Reporting

05-30-2007, 07:19 AM
If a writer has to interview people in a dangerous place, or a war zone or something, how do they go about it? Are there normal procedures, or things you have to do/sign.

In my story, the MC is a Canadian writer who is interviewing people living in Refugee Center Eleven, a small makeshift city that is situated on the edge of the Easy (EZ) , which is the area that has been affected (Yes I know, affected begins with an A, but EZ sounds better than AZ, doesn't it?) by radiation from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, which has suffered a full meltdown on March Ninth, 1979.

NOTE: In real life, it was only a partial melt down.

So anyway, I was wondering about this kind of interviewing. Any real life experiences in that kind of a situation would also be helpful. Thanks!

JJ Cooper
05-30-2007, 07:47 AM
Hi Zoombie,

I offered up some advice a while ago on interviewing techniques here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=60213)that may be of assistance.

Is your MC a freelance type working for the print media? Or is he/she a writer interviewing people for his/her own future publication. I ask this because the way your MC will interview will be different depending on his/her background and who they are working for.

Mainstream media types tend toward leading and closed questions. Whilst those conducting research for themselves should be asking open and probing type questions.

Media in a war zone are pains in the ***. Despite what most people think, a lot of what they report is fed to them by the Military. In your situation it would depend on who is in control to what access they get.

If the Military is in charge in your book, the media would probably be escorted everywhere they went. The escorts would also be collecting a lot of information themselves on what the media is about to report. The escorts would report this information up the chain of command. The bosses would then be fully prepared to answer the questions that are likely to be asked at media conferences. The escorts would also probably be feeding information to the media that shows the military in a good light.

Hope this helps a little.


05-30-2007, 08:02 AM
It does. A lot. I'll clarify more...

The MC is a Mainstream media type person. He's planning to write a book that plays off people anger at the administration and dissatisfaction with their response to the problem and dull shock at the massive collapse of the US government that followed that. There isn't much of an administration left, cause a Three Mile Island meltdown would have affected a huge area including, if my calculations are correct, Pittsburgh, New York and Washington D.C. It's not a warzone, per-say, and the military is only involved in keeping a loose cordon.

So if the MC is mainstream and wants to write a very specific book, that means he's going to ask very specific questions, mostly around blame. Thats partly for plot, partly so I can start off with the line "It was Jimmy Carter's fault."

All that sound in order?

JJ Cooper
05-30-2007, 08:32 AM
Sounds like he'll be asking a lot of leading and closed questions that he already knows the answer to. I'd say this is in order to add authenticity and to quote people - yep sounds like mainstream media.

If you are looking for a twist along the lines that I mentioned about the Military escorting your MC, just PM me and I would be happy to help out with some more details.

Additionally, if you want me to have a look over the dialogue when your MC is asking questions just let me know and I would be happy to help out.

Your WIP sounds interesting.


05-30-2007, 08:57 AM
Thanks, thanks and thanks. I'll send you some when I get some more. This is my first time doing this kind of dialouge, so I'm not sure if it's A-okay or way off.

06-01-2007, 12:19 AM
I went to Northern Island as a reporter in the early '90s when things were a little dicey. I was invited by the British Army who had a garrison in the town where I was a journalist. So I was definitely escorted everywhere and no doubt saw only what they wanted me to see. Made for some decent stories, nevertheless.