Wasted Interviews

Reporters should start posting transcripts of their interviews with newsmakers on the Web.

Ezra Klein makes an excellent suggestion:

Reporters are endlessly interviewing newsmakers and then using, at most, a handful of lines out of thousands of words. The paper, of course, may not have room for thousands of words of interview transcripts, but the Web certainly does. Nor does it make sense for the interviewee to give on-the-record interviews that are condensed into a handful of quotes: It’s safer to have your full comments, and the questions that led to them, out in the open, rather than just the lines the author thought interesting enough to include in the article. And for the institution itself, it’s a no-brainer: You get a lot more inward links if you provide enough transcript that every niche media site can find something to point their readers toward. But no paper that I know of makes a habit of including transcripts of on-the-record interviews with major players.

I rarely do interviews but, when I do, I invariably try to capture the full conversation.  My strong preference, in fact, is to do them via email so that I have a ready transcript for posting.

I’ve mostly been on the other side of this phenomenon, spending 15-20 minutes on the phone (or on camera) with a reporter only to be used for a sound byte, often one that erroneously represents my thoughts on the issue.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Gregory Koster says:

    Dear Mr. Joyner: Hugh Hewitt, the radio host, once offered to give a no-holds-barred interview to a Washington POST reporter, for as long as the reporter wanted to ask questions. The offer was declined, because HH put a string on it: the interview would be conducted on HH’s radio show, live. The press will always bawl against secrecy, so long as it’s GOP secrecy, but follow their own rules? Hell, no! No Pulitzer, no book deal in that.

    Sincerely yours,
    Gregory Koster