Tackling the tough interview, especially when the subject won’t talk

By Michael Bodley

What do you do when the one person you need to talk to for a story refuses to cooperate? How about when you have to speak with the mother who just lost her child? What’s the approach for dealing with public relations professionals?

Former Associated Press Assistant Bureau Chief David Simpson had some advice for the reporter pitted between two sources who are both equally convinced their version of the story is right, honestly.

“In a two-party conflict, both people are honestly, absolutely convinced that they’re right,” Simpson said. “Each person sincerely believes their version. They’re not lying to you.”

It’s all about the preparation. But don’t overdo it. Don’t feel like you have to know everything, just enough.

“Don’t feel like you’ve got to be a nuclear physicist in order to interview the nuclear physicist,” Simpson said.   

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