Writing for Magazines --Part 10

By June Campbell

Part 10: Interviews and Quotes

When writing for magazines, you may want to interview expert sources for your article. You do this for three reasons: one, for information gathering; two, to add credibility to the article; and three, because incorporating a quote from someone increases interest.

The challenge is finding people to interview. If you don't have a particular person in mind but you know the industry, do a Google search for industry associations, related university departments or other appropriate sources. If the company or organization has a media or PR department, your best bet is to contact them first and ask for their assistance.

When you know who you want to interview, contact that person directly by phone or email, and ask for an interview. Be prepared to leave a voice message I find it helpful to decide in advance what I want to say. Stammering and leaving a convoluted message will not increase your chances of landing an interview.

Be sure to include your name, phone number, name of the magazine or publication that will publish the article and any other information that you think might encourage the person to agree.

If the person agrees to an interview, offer a choice of telephone or email. Be prepared and have a list of questions you want to ask. If necessary, book an interview time at the convenience of the other person. Remember to clarify time zones.

When doing a telephone interview, I suggest recording the phone call for future reference. Since I can keyboard at over 90 words a minute (although with typos) I usually type the conversation as we speak instead of recording. If you are going to record, you might look into Skype. There is an option of recording phone calls. Alternatively, you can purchase a recording devise for your telephone.

When writing for magazines, inform your interview source that the editorial department will contact him or her for fact checking, if that is the case.

Ethical Interviewing When Writing for Magazines

Frequently when writing for magazines, interview sources ask to see your article before you submit it. Most magazines will not permit you do to this, and with good reason. Imagine for a moment that you are reading an article in Business 2.0 magazine. The article discusses some new web technologies being launched next month and it includes interviews with the companies' CEOs. If you later learned that the CEOs had seen and approved the articles prior to publication, would the article, the writer and the magazine all lose credibility in your eyes? Would you not wonder whether the article was nothing more than a thinly disguised advertisement?

On the other hand, you can understand why interview sources want to see what you are writing about them. Anyone who has ever been misquoted is fearful of a repeat.

If the interview source is adamant, you might ask the magazine's editor to contact him/her personally and work something out. Sometimes it is acceptable to show the interview source the direct quote, but not the complete article.

Speaking of misquoting interview sources, please don't do this. In my view, it is acceptable to tidy up grammatical errors and reword a little to make a person sound better. When we speak, we all stumble and stutter, make grammatical errors, lose our thoughts in mid-sentence, etc. Nobody wants you to include those stumblings in your written copy. I have interviewed hundreds of people and no one has ever complained because I made them sound better. However, as I said a moment ago, tidy it up a little, but do not misquote, change meanings, quote out of context or do anything else to represent the interview source differently than he or she presented during the interview.

Lastly, when quoting your source in the article, make it a short quote and make it an interesting quote. Quotes that run on for several sentences are too long, take too many words and are probably boring.

Now for the next step on your way to writing for magazines. ... Research

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