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Thoughts on Q&As

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Gator, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    I have to assume there's another thread on this subject, but I haven't seen one so I apologize if that's the case. Anyway, I know some people think they're lazy, but what's the general feeling about Q&A pieces. Let me lay out my scenario: Big metro paper does a piece on our local football (which used to be great but has struggled the past decade or two, mostly because they lack the numbers), and comes to a lot of conclusions the coach doesn't agree with.

    Well, coach e-mails me, and while he doesn't come out and ask us to run a piece (probably for clarification), I can see where he's going. So instead of running another story, how about a Q&A and let him explain what's going on over there? Thoughts?
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I like Q&As as a standing feature to get more insight into players, coaches, whomever quickly. I think this would be an awkward way to do one.

    If you think a story responding to big metro's piece is warranted, go for it. But if you do it as a Q&A it would seem unusual to me. I'd have him write a letter instead.
  3. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    With the heavier workload most writers have these days, Q&As are a great way to crank out some info without it taking an absurd amount of time. IMO, the Q&As were/are the best thing about the Sporting News Online thing. Informative and often used a bunch of interesting off-beat stuff.

    I like 'em.
  4. HHDougB

    HHDougB New Member

    Yeah definitely a fan of Q&As. Readers gobble them up and they are fun to read.
  5. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    Love Q&A's, just not as the "main story," generally speaking. If you package a solid article with a Q&A, I think it works great.
  6. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    Q&A's are a way of letting the reader hear it straight from the subject's mouth, so to speak. And they take less time. And they're visually appealing both in print and on the web because of how naturally broken up the text is.

    Those who cry laziness are just stupid. An occasional Q&A is a perfect change of pace.
  7. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Q&As to me are like notebooks. I wind up reading them first, before the gamers, before the artfully crafted features. "Lazy" has nothing to do with it, if you're serving the readers. The work of a Q&A comes in identifying the interviewee, selecting the questions and managing the interview, not in the transcribing. Just because someone comes up with nifty transitions and clever lines doesn't make a traditional story better or even "harder" work.
  8. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I love Q&As. There's no "That was taken out of context" or "I was misquoted" that comes with so many other things.

    Sometimes the best way to do things is the simplest. I agree that the readers prefer it.
  9. finishthehat

    finishthehat Active Member

    Adding to the "me, too" chorus -- for one thing, you can easily skip to topics you're interested in and pass by the ones you're not.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Though for some writers, Q&As seem to mean that you leave in every question and every answer. Please leave out the dull ones.
  11. finishthehat

    finishthehat Active Member

    One thing that never gets cut out of a Q&A? When the interviewee says something like "That's a great question."

    Guilty as charged, on occasion.
  12. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Add me to the chorus. Q&As are great reads (usually), especially when it's a well-known personality.

    They work best as regular "spotlight" or "Three Questions For ..." features, but they also serve as excellent sidebar material to a larger package, either as a way to let an expert comment on a topic or as an FAQ-style piece (where you'd provide your own A's to your own Q's).

    In rare circumstances, you can do an entire feature in Q&A format, particularly if there's no timely newspeg -- maybe you just have an opportunity to talk to a well-known personality. I once fleshed out a 2,000-word magazine piece on Garrison Keillor entirely in a Q&A format, but I wouldn't recommend doing it often ... because then, yes, it's just lazy.

    Generally speaking, if you have an "issue" piece or a newsy story, you're probably best off writing a straight news story in order to provide essential background and context. Use a lot of quotes in your story, and you've accomplished much of the same thing as a Q&A. (And, heck, you could even post audio of your interview online (if you recorded it) or a transcript of the Q&A as a "Web extra.")

    That said, I'll also second the motion of the person who said Q&As are a quick way to create content when you're pressed for time and/or resources.
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