Email interviews vs. phone interviews (and podcasting too)

April 30, 2007

Jason Calacanis was asked to do an interview by Wired reporter Fred Volgelstein. He said he would do it by email. The reporter refused to do an email interview. What follows is a fascinating interchange and discussion about the nature of reporting and the issues of how to make sure the journalist gets the story and the quotations right.

Here is Calacanis’ blog following the refusal.

And here is a podcast of a phone call with Calacanis and Volgelstein discussing the uproar this caused.

For the record, I advise clients wherever possible to submit answers to questions by email–as a way of helping insure accuracy. But I would not tell them to refuse to do a phone interview. I find Mr. Volgelstein’s defense of his position–hearing their voice helps make sure he gets their meaning right–to be weak. I tend to believe reporters do not like to get answers by email because of the lack of spontaneity and the change in style that frequently results–plus the added constraint the accuracy question.

The idea of recording the phone interview (now becoming much easier with speaker phones and built in recording on computers) is a useful idea to again help insure accuracy.

But, what is most interesting is coming to the obvious conclusion that Mr Volgelstein needs some media training. 😉


2 Responses to “Email interviews vs. phone interviews (and podcasting too)”

  1. neil chapman Says:

    This is a question I’ve posed to a number of reporters and also spokespeople. The answer is that thr appears no one ‘rule’ and it depends upon the relationship they have built up over time.
    For some reporters ‘interviewing’ by email implies lack of trust, for others it means I want a record and I’m concerned about being 100 per cent accurate. For some spokespeople it might be the easiest way to get hold of them (Blackberries make them available 24/7) for others they may not want a written record, possibly so they can claim to have bn misquoted if the quotes don’t look good!
    As is noted in ‘Now Is Too Late’ it all comes down to trust and relationships, so to me hard and fast rules are difficult to impose when trying to improve either.

  2. I wrote about this too over at Scatterbox… there are good and bad reasons why both journalists and the companies they cover are insisting on having on-the-record conversations via the inbox.

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