Getting Ukrainian Journalists to Ask Ordinary People Questions

Simpson, Peggy
June 2005
Nieman Reports;Summer2005, Vol. 59 Issue 2, p92
This article presents the author's experience with a training program for journalists sponsored by Women in Development Technical Assistance Project in Ukraine. In this Ukrainian program, my teaching colleague was Leslie Snyder, a University of Connecticut communications science professor. Her specialty was using focus groups as one strategy to find out what people were thinking and what they were doing. The 16 young journalists with whom we worked were from a variety of cities in Ukraine. Two of the participants were men, and all were either print reporters or broadcast reporters and producers. In two intensive days of discussion, we talked about focus-group principles and role-played an assortment of interviewing styles and skills. One goal was to communicate to these journalists the value of open-ended questions when trying to elicit information from strangers. To make this point, we downplayed a confrontational approach. We also tried to get them to determine in advance the main thrust of what they wanted to learn from these interviews and then worked with them on how to structure and ask questions that might lead those who were being interviewed to give them some helpful answers.


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