Advice For Journalists: How To Source Interviewees

Written by on April 26, 2013 in Career - No comments | Print this page


journalist interviews

Photo by: PolandMFA

So, you’ve been given the brief for that all important article that could get you noticed by your publisher and now you have to start to plan how you are going to seize that attention – where do you begin?

With the rise of the internet it has become increasingly simple for journalists to advise themselves about a certain subject matter without necessarily having to speak to experts in that field.

In order to lend real colour and character to an article however, it is essential to ensure that any selected interviewees are the right ones for the job. Any writer can add a desired spin or angle in order to achieve their journalistic ends. However, without quality material from  experts, any attempts to add vigour and personality can fall flat.

How then can you insure you find the perfect interviewee for the job? Where do you start and how do you decide to suitable medium of interview to ensure a top result?

Track them Down

A good and logical way to begin is to enter the topic or a keyword into a search engine such as to find writers on the subject and even be able to read examples of their work in order to gauge potential relevance.

Furthermore, websites such as can prove invaluable as not only do willing interview candidates place advertisements and leave contact details, but they are also often promoting an item or product, and so charge no fee to interview.

Also worth a glance are the increasingly popular professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn, or simply a traditional local phone book which  can also provide domain specific businesses and contact details, leading  you to a perfect candidate.

Approach with Caution

One thing to remember when dealing with professionals however is to always approach them with interest, be polite and make them feel as though their opinion is of a high worth and relevance.

Remember, telephone conversations are always more intimate that arrangements made via the medium of internet and the necessity of a polite attitude of course goes without saying – no-one wants to give their time when they feel undervalued.

Study their Body Language

After sourcing and arranging, the issue then is what form the interview will take – a highly important decision which can have a huge bearing on the outcome of any article.

Telephone conversations or Skype interviews are of course incomparable for ease but, as the old-age adage goes: ‘actions speak louder than words’, and a face-to-face conversation and clues in body language can often give an altogether different impression to a vocal expression, leaving room to give a twist or interesting spin on your writing.

Get a Range of Voices

A final issue to consider when sourcing interviewees is the potential advantage of ‘vox pops’, or interviews with the general public. These are free, easy to arrange (just take to a busy high street), and can also prove invaluable when dealing with a controversial or local issue, due to the availability of a varied range of people, lifestyles and ideologies.

The pure spontaneity and the ‘voice of the people’ also generally means you get a lower bias and a truer reflection of viewpoints – something which can be of vital importance when dealing with a tricky issue.

Sourcing an ideal interviewee can often prove a headache for many journalists but following some of these simple tips can hopefully make the task less of a trial and will produce the well informed, expert-approved article you desire. And, once you start building up a profile of well-placed experts, you may find you have an ideal phone number on speed-dial, for any type of interview on a given  topic.

Featured images:

Jade Douglas is a blogger on a year abroad in Germany and she’s passionate about languages, travel and writing about her experiences in another culture. She writes for White Pages


About the Author

Guest Blogger

This article was written by a guest contributor. You will find their details at the bottom of the post. To submit your own Guest Post to our website, please visit our SUBMIT page for details about adding your article.