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I’m totally guilty of enjoying the Q&A formats in journalism. It’s an easy, fast read. However, this style of an interview is lacking nutrients for the reader. It’s like reading fast food, and lacks depth.
When I used to copyedit for The Aquarian Arts weekly, I wasn’t a fan of reading the Q&A style articles. It cheapens the subject the journalist is writing about and comes across as cold and not as informative. It’s an easy way to get “holes” (missing information) that leaves the reader questioning.
This is why, as a journalist, I dislike when subjects say “Email me the questions.”
The only way that type of interview is beneficial is if your subject is a professional who is using medical terms and formulas that only other medical professionals will understand. For example, a trade publication. To chop up an article to a Q&A format so readers can look at it on their phones is not true journalism.
When journalists resort to Q&A “journalism” they think it is cute to insert “um” or “uh” into the article if that is what the subject said. It’s not cute. It’s no fair. It’s tacky. Your job, as a journalist, is to bring forth the subject in the best light possible. It’s also your job, as a journalist, to ask the subject “Is this ‘on the record?” if they get too comfortable with you and share very personal information. It’s only fair.
Journalism is a responsibility to your subject and your readers.
Perhaps the Q&A format caters to those who like to read on their phone. But writers deserve to be better. Writing is an art and shouldn’t be cut down to modern readers with short attention spans. Would you want Freddie Mercury to cut “Bohemian Rhapsody” down to cater to the those a short listening span? Well, maybe comparing music (which can be background noise) to reading an article isn’t the greatest analogy. Though I did have an aunt who read the newspaper and watched television at the same time, which was nearly genius. But you get the picture.
Yeah, I know, you can’t read EVERYTHING. A few years ago I read an article that said you can read more books if you skip over sections of a book. Perhaps that’s good for reading the Bible or a self help book. You can skip around and take in what works for you. But if you’re reading a biography or a fiction novel, you’re going to miss out.
Journalists need to take this into consideration and possibly stand up to editors and publishers who are okay with the Q&A style. Please, go the extra mile. Get your hands dirty. It may take longer but in the end you’ll have an article that you–and your subject–can be proud of. Never mind that some of the readers might think the article is too long. They can always go back to it. If a reader is truly interested, they’ll sit down with a cup of coffee and read. My late father-in-law used to sit in the living room and read The Star Ledger cover-to-cover every Sunday. We need to get back to this kind of traditional reading — and writing.
I recently subscribed to a magazine and was disappointed that all the interviews were in a Q&A style. In the long run, writers should go the extra mile. When writing an article, insert the subject’s quotes into the article. This is true journalism that is used in old school newspapers and magazines. A good reader will enjoy the article more.
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Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
She is the author of the following books:
“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary
“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You
Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: https://eroticbooknetwork.com/product/love-cats/
Maryanne is also available for book editing and coaching. Rates are competitive.
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