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Interviewing kids

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HanSenSE, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Covered a baseball regional for 12-year-olds last night. Was doing fine talking to the winning coach afterwards, until he bought over some of the players to talk. I usually deal with high school age and above kids on the beat, and they are generally fairly savvy when I ask my questions. Different situation last night, with a lot of the "yeah, no, uh huh" type of answers. Was that close to breaking out the "OK, Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga" questions.

    Seriously, though, with kid ball upon many of us, how do you phrase questions to get response? This is probably a d_b from somewhere, but I know we could all probably use some help.
  2. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    After the yes or no, ask why?

    And then ask them if they want candy.
  3. expendable

    expendable Well-Known Member

    Interviewing kids worked for Art Linkletter, but not for me.
  4. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    About 30 years ago I was asked to do a feature on kids chewing "Big League Chew" gum when it was introduced as a way to look like a major leaguer, with the gum packaged like tobacco.

    Upon completing the assignment, all I can say is that kids do NOT say the darndest things.
  5. I used to have to spend two weeks every summer covering a series of rather large Little League tourneys. I would always try to think of open-ended questions that would make the kids respond with some sort of real answer. But then I'd always just have to revert to, "What do you like most about baseball tournaments like this one?"
  6. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    Most important is to stay away from questions that they can answer with a yes or no. I just had to interview a 12-year-old and completely lucked out when she gave great answers to all my questions. But I had put a lot of thought into those questions to make sure yes or no wasn't going to cut it for an answer.

    Doesn't mean you're not going to get "I don't know" and blank looks, but it should help at least a little.
  7. gravehunter

    gravehunter Member

    I agree. Do NOT ask yes or no questions. Also, from a psychological standpoint, squat or bend down when talking to a kid. Put yourself as close as you can to his eye level. That way he may be less intimidated about answering questions for a "grown-up".
    Try to point out something that he did in the game and use that to help bring down whatever barriers he might have up.
  8. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I was going to offer squatting/bending down. Great advice.
  9. FleetFeet

    FleetFeet Member

    Interviewing kids about 12 years or younger is one of my favorite things to do on the job. They're not nearly as guarded as their taller, older counterparts. Just do your interviews AWAY from the kids' parents especially and away from the coaches if possible.

    The secret" Talk on their level and let them know you watched them. They'll like that. "I saw you smiling when you had that game-winning hit. What were you thinking when you ran to first base?"

    Try to make it as conversational as possible, so the kid doesn't know he's being interviewed and instead just thinks you're a grown-up interested in his/her game.
  10. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Don't ask yes or no questions. If they answer quickly keep saying "can you elaborate on that"?
  11. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Advice worth heeding, creepy as it seems. Try to do the interview away from teammates, too. The kid is nervous enough as is, and his teammates will often try to mess with him by making faces or cracking stupid 12-year-old jokes. The kid gets sidetracked, often during an answer, and you end up repeating your question 10 times or getting the stammering response.
    Sit in the bleachers or dugout with him if you can, that way you get away from everyone and have the eye-level thing going too.
  12. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    You know who doesn't pull that shit? 12-year old girls. You ask them one yes or no question and they go on and on and on and on and on.
    Kids 10 and under are pretty worthless. So are boys until they hit about 15. Girls are gold. They like to talk to whoever will listen.
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